February 19 2012
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Bill Haas is fast getting a reputation as a player with a flair for the dramatic.
After all, he came from two strokes back to force a playoff Sunday at the Northern Trust Open and then beat Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley with an improbable 45-foot putt on the second extra hole.
Five months ago in an another playoff at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Haas waded into the water on the penultimate hole for a phenomenal par save that paved the way for the FedExCup title as well as the tournament crown.
“And I think if anything what the FedExCup did for me is I've told myself that a ton of times, anything can happen, Haas said. “I said that a little bit on the putt there on (the second playoff hole). You never know, just hit a good putt and hopefully it goes. “
Sunday's win at Riviera was the fourth of Haas' career. The 29-year-old closed with a 69 and used a two-putt birdie at the 17th hole to grab the lead, then he was waiting on the range as the crowd erupted when Mickelson poured in a 37-footer for the tying birdie and Bradley followed with a 14-footer to join the fray.
Haas' winner of a putt at the 10th hole may not have sent the crowd into the same kind of frenzy but it was certainly effective. Then Mickelson, who was in the greenside bunker, had to hole his shot but it landed 9 feet short of the pin. Bradley had a chance from the back fringe but the putt slipped by and Haas had the victory.
“I never expected to make a 40‑footer, and especially in that situation,” Haas admitted. “That was a little bit of luck involved, but felt like I put a good roll on it, and it was meant to be, I guess.”
Mickelson, who was going for his second straight win and the 41st of his career, agreed. At 312 yards, the 10th hole is a short but challenging par 4 that is tempting and treacherous at the same time.
"Bill hit a tremendous putt," Mickelson said. "We're thinking it's a very difficult 3, it's a defensive hole. You're just trying to make 4 believe it or not. It's only 290 yards, 280 yards, but you're trying to make par. He ended up making a 50-, 60-footer and that's going to do it."
Bradley joked that he was glad to see a fellow belly putter win but added he didn’t expect to see Haas bury the putt – as he had on the 18th in regulation when Mickelson was standing over the tying effort.
"I should have known, though, because he's a great putter and a great player,” Bradley said. “But I still had a really good look at mine, and I hit a perfect one for me, I'm happy with it because it went right down my line, and it just didn't go in. But hopefully I learned a lot from today, and I'll be able to take that into the next one."
With the victory, Haas moved to fourth in the FedExCup. He also jumped from 27th to 12th -- his highest position ever -- in the Official World Golf Ranking and established himself as one of the players to beat at this week's World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.