By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- On a glass half-full or half-empty kind of Sunday, Bill Haas smartly chose the former.
Make no mistake, he was disappointed. But even after squandering a three-stroke advantage in a seven-hole stretch where he made five bogeys, Haas reversed course and still finished just one shot out of a playoff in his title defense at the Northern Trust Open.
"Maybe next time I'll handle it better but I know I'll be nervous again," said Haas, who birdied his last two holes to get into a tie for third. "That's part of the deal but hopefully I can handle it just one shot better, one shot better today I'm in a playoff and two shots better I win the tournament.
"Positives to be taken but overall, you don't get this many opportunities. A three-shot lead at one of the best tournaments of the year is great opportunity that I squandered."
Haas appeared solid early on Sunday as he two-putted the first hole from 37 feet for birdie and bounced from a bogey at the second with a 30-footer at No. 3. In hindsight, he wishes he'd kept the driver in his bag at No. 8 and the always-tempting 10th, and he'd love to have had a mulligan on his second shot at the par-5 11th that turned a much-needed-birdie-to-stop-the-bleeding into a par.
"Those three shots stick out in my head as, if I could do those over again, maybe it turns out something different," Haas said.
The soft-spoken South Carolinian, who picked up his fourth PGA TOUR win at Riviera a year ago when he beat Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a playoff, had played well all week. The 64 he shot Saturday was stellar on a day when the venerable course was playing extremely firm and fast and Haas had what appeared to be a comfortable lead heading into the final round.
"I really felt good," Haas said. "Didn't think I could shoot over par, and then all of a sudden to be 4 over par for the day (on the 14th tee), just kind of hit me and every shot, I wasn't comfortable, and didn't hit a good shot. So I deserved it."
Even so, the tie for third with Fredrick Jacobson and Charl Schwartzel was Haas' third straight top-10 finish so he'll head to Arizona for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship with momentum for his first-round match with Nicolas Colsaerts.
"Absolutely," Haas said. "Even just the last two holes there, to finish birdie, birdie putts at least somewhat of a good taste in my mouth."