AT&T National interview: Bill HaasJune 30, 2013
MORE INTERVIEWS: AT&T National transcripts archive
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started. I'd like to welcome our 2013 AT&T National Champion, Bill Haas.
Bill, congratulations. You've been having a great season to this point. This is your seventh top ten. You kind of want to talk about the win today and your thoughts on what this does for your season with a few weeks left till the playoffs.
BILL HAAS: You know, it's huge for mainly the FedExCup, to bump up to be in the top ten, I think, now on that list gets you in such a great position come playoff time.
But today, unbelievable special day. I can't even tell you how good it feels. I was trying to keep my emotions in check out there. It's so hard to do. You make a birdie, and you're thinking, oh, I can win this thing, and you have to somehow reel yourself back.
There's been a few Sundays this year‑‑ L.A., I had a three‑shot lead starting the last round and really felt good there, and it didn't happen. Threw up all over myself in the middle of that round.
So today it maybe helped Roberto was playing very well, him being with me. I certainly couldn't start letting up because he was hitting great golf shots.
It's a great feeling. As many times as I've choked and hit bad shots and I've been nervous and it hasn't worked out, I was feeling all those things today, and to hit good quality golf shots down the stretch is such a good feeling. I wish I could explain it. It's amazing.
Q. What if you start by giving us some details on 8 through 10.
BILL HAAS: Got off to a nice start, birdie on 2, like an eagle. Decent shot at 3. Nice up and down at 4, drove it in the rough there. I'm kind of off to a good start, 1 under through four, and bogey 5, which is one of the easiest holes on the front side.
Basically, that fired me up. Come on, you're still even par. You're still right there. You got some birdie holes coming up.
8, just nice drive there. Just had a little 70‑yard shot and hit it in there about 10 feet behind the hole, great putt.
9 almost played like a par 6. A little into the wind, 630 or whatever that hole is. Hit a great drive. A nice layup with mud on the ball. It could have gone anywhere. There were two or three things that happened that, honestly, you tell yourself, all right, may be my day. Birdieing 9 was huge.
10, another birdie that‑‑ you know, I'm just trying to hit that green. It's 212 downhill over water. There's trouble right, left. Basically, I was just trying to get a good target and make solid contact, and it went down there about 12 feet and made a great putt. 5 iron there.
And then 11 was huge. Yesterday making triple there. I feel like I could make triple there any time I tee it up. It's such a hard hole. Hit a great drive. Even a better 5 iron to the middle of the green and two‑putted.
Certainly, I did know ‑‑ I told myself, great par, but it's not over yet. That wasn't your only‑‑ you can't breathe a sigh of relief yet. You've got to keep hitting good shots. I was able to hit a few nice ones coming in.
Q. Were you worried on 14 that the ball was descending a little bit right of the green?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, I hit a decent ‑‑ I switched clubs. I went from kind of a fader leaker 8 iron there to a nice hard draw 9 iron, and I just hung it a little bit. When it was in the air halfway, I said be good, and then I said stay left because it kind of drifted right on me.
Luckily, it got a great bounce there. That was huge. If it hangs up in the rough, maybe make 5, but it kicked up on the green, and I made a good putt for birdie. Like you said, there's another one.
That hole and the next hole, 15, drove it into the rough and was able to hack that thing out of that thick rough onto the green. Kind of three holes in a row there, 13, 14, 15, were big for me.
Q. And 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
BILL HAAS: And 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, yeah. Sorry.
Q. Bill, does it make any difference to you to win on this golf course, a quality, kind of a difficult track?
BILL HAAS: I think so. I've told people before, it doesn't matter where you win. I've heard people say, oh, the Tour Championship is great, but it's only a 30‑man field, and it's an easier win. I don't know. You can't take a win away from anyone.
Certainly, on a golf course like this, there's unbelievable pictures in this clubhouse of a lot of great players that ‑‑ don't know if I'll make a picture up yet. I've got to have a better career maybe, but it would certainly be awesome to hang on the walls of this clubhouse.
Q. Bill, sort of along those same lines, your last three wins now have been at Congressional, Riviera, and Eastlake, all three traditional old style courses. Does that suit your game better?
BILL HAAS: I think so. I enjoy them more. Maybe that's part of it. You've got to enjoy what you're doing to play well. Maybe a little bit of a coincidence there, but I love Harbour Town, and I think I've made 2 out of 8 cuts there, and that's an old style golf course as well.
I think this golf course to me all week‑‑ my putter was hot. I don't know how many birdies I made, 23 or so or something. If you'd have told me that at the beginning of the week, I'd have told you you're crazy. I think it was just my week. One of those weeks where the 12‑footers went in instead of missed.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you threw up all over yourself at Riviera, your words, not mine. How do you keep yourself from thinking about that the next time you're in contention?
BILL HAAS: I don't think you can. Obviously, you've got to stay in the moment, look forward. I'm just being as honest as I can be here. Obviously, I could sit here today and say today I blanked all that out and I was so focused and that's the reason I won.
I think I was just trying to stay focused on the task at hand, stay patient. Life is good, all that kind of cliche stuff. No matter what happens, just keep plugging along, try to hit every shot the best shot you can hit. I know it sounds stupid, but that's what we're thinking out there.
I knew‑‑ L.A. has sat with me all year honestly. You can't let one round bother you, but the way I played those holes in the middle of that tournament really was disappointing. So this‑‑ it only makes this week that much sweeter.
Q. Bill, you've won a few of these things now, but I'm just curious, what did you kind of learn from maybe those seven top tens? And then secondly, you came in here, missed three or four cuts. Is there a fine line between that and kind of being where you are now?
BILL HAAS: There's definitely a fine line. The U.S. Open, I did not play that great. It's hard to use the U.S. Open as an example of a missed cut because, if you have one off day, you shoot 78, 79, which is what I did.
Hung in there. I was proud of the way I hung in there at the U.S. Open, just threw up over myself when we came back after the delay Saturday morning to make the cut. I four‑putted my first hole from 12 feet, and I would have made the cut if I made pars coming in. We're getting off topic there.
But, yeah, there's a fine line between missing the cut by a couple and maybe winning, honestly. That's how good everybody is out here. That's how a swing little‑‑ I'm working every week on something. Today just my one little thought seemed to be working, and my putting thought all week worked.
Next week it might be something different. If I go out there on the Pro‑Am and hit it all over the place, then I might switch it up. Just a new thought. So, yeah, there is a fine line.
Your first question‑‑ what is it again?
Q. What, if anything, did you learn from all those close calls this year?
BILL HAAS: Hopefully, that I can do it. I can put myself in that situation, and then once you get there, you've just got to do better than you did last time, hit better shots. You're going to be nervous. Try to enjoy being nervous, and that's hard to do because, when you're nervous, you feel like you're going to hit a bad shot.
I think there was a couple times today where I could feel it coming, and I just took a few deep breaths. There were a couple of putts where I felt really comfortable over a few of them that maybe I wouldn't have normally if I hadn't been in this situation a few other times.
Q. Hey, Bill, you mentioned to TV out there, what you got from Brad Faxon about look and go. Was that something you sought out from him? And how do you think you applied that this week?
BILL HAAS: It was a clinic he was putting on, and I think that's something that I usually do, just I'm always learning by observation from the best players.
He was not talking to me. He was talking to a bunch of people in a crowd, and I just kind of took it. You know, I think sometimes I try to be so perfect on every putt, and I just tried to be a little more natural with my putting stroke as opposed to rigid, if that makes sense.
I used it at the CVS, and I really played well in that little Pro‑Am style tournament and made a lot of nice putts. So really the work I put in in those two days for that little Pro‑Am, I've got to give a lot of credit to because that gave me the confidence to go at it this week.
Q. And Jason said you recently changed the blade on your putter?
BILL HAAS: It's a little different head. It's a mid‑slant. Monday in that Pro‑Am was the first day I ever used it. Brand new putter, but similar looking. It's not much different. It's an inch shorter than I was using. There are some differences. Overall the look when I'm looking down is about the same.
Q. When did you breathe a sigh of relief today? Going into 18?
BILL HAAS: I said it earlier. When Roberto missed his putt, I knew I had three putts to win from three feet, and I still was‑‑ I mean, I was shaking over that last putt. I think that's just the nerves you feel being so excited and so anxious.
I didn't want to miss that three‑footer even though I probably would have tapped in and still won. You'd like to say‑‑ maybe one day I can say, well, you have this three‑footer, and I need it to tie, and hopefully I can rely on it a little bit.
I didn't allow myself to have a sigh of relief. Walking back to the 18th tee with a three‑shot lead, I could hear people saying, "Great week, Bill. Way to go." I just told myself, acknowledge them, but don't let it get to you. It's not over yet. If Roberto makes birdie and I make double, which I've already made a triple this week‑‑ and a double, I think. Triple and a double. So it could happen.
Honestly, the drive on 18 really made me feel pretty good. Just had a sand wedge in there, and that hole I hit 5 iron yesterday. So sand wedge today into that hole is a lot easier.
Q. Bill, I think some fans would think, coming from a golf background, golf family, that maybe things like pressure, dealing with it would be easier for you. Does it show just how hard it is for everybody that you've been around it all your life, fought through it, but it's still tough?
BILL HAAS: Absolutely. I think anybody in any job. I think there's a lot of kids that go into their father's business and don't succeed or don't get the deal done that their dad got done, if that makes any sense. It's hard.
And certainly, a sport that you get a lot of people watching you and at any moment it could go astray and go wrong, those thoughts creep into your mind.
Like I was telling Jason, you've just got to somehow not think of that stuff, not think of how you screwed up before. Just think, you know what, you can hit good golf shots.
And I can definitely‑‑ I've said before, on the hole, I've said, you've won before. You can do this. Even though this is number 5 out of, I think, 240 events. It's hard to do. It's nice to be sitting here. It's an unbelievable feeling.
Q. Back to the triple on 11 yesterday, was there a point in your career when you would not have been able to respond birdie, birdie to that? Or have you always been pretty good?
BILL HAAS: Probably last week.
Q. Seriously, did you think, oh, no? But you didn't let the Tournament get away from you there.
BILL HAAS: It will be fun to look at that scorecard down the road to say that I made 7 there and somehow birdied 3 of the next 4 holes. I don't know how I did it. I just said, you know what, hit good golf shots. Keep making putts. You never know.
The next hole helped. I hit a nice drive and a pitching wedge to three feet. All of a sudden, I made one birdie, I'm like, all right, you don't have to choke too bad here. You can go the other way. Yeah, that was pretty awesome.
And then honestly, the pitching wedge on 16 at the end of the round yesterday was just as bad as that hole. So I certainly had some bad thoughts going. You just got to throw those away and enjoy the moment. Today was awesome.
Q. Bill, you've spent your career hearing questions about your father obviously. Now you're a new father. How has that impacted you? We've seen over the years a lot of players win pretty quickly after becoming fathers. Did you feel like it was coming because of that for any reason? Has it changed you in certain ways on the course?
BILL HAAS: I think it's certainly changed me. Hopefully, I'm a better person. I think he'll make me a better person. I don't know why. The first week out after having him, I played well at Memorial. And there I didn't have a great Sunday.
Something about‑‑ they say new dads. You do see it a lot out here. I don't know what it is. There was a couple times today, I was going over a couple balls, and I said, you get to go home and see William this week. This drive is not that big of a deal. Maybe that helps. Maybe just that one little thought keeps you in perspective.
Q. You call him William?
BILL HAAS: William, yeah.
Q. You've used the word throw up on myself about four times, and you just said choke for the second time in this press conference. The amazing thing is I've heard you use those terms when the trophy wasn't sitting at your side. Where did you learn to be so honest with yourself? Does sometimes being too honest with yourself carry over into being too hard on yourself?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, maybe so. Certainly too hard on myself. Something I fight with that I grind‑‑ I get on myself too much out there. And maybe, being honest with myself, knowing that it's so easy to say, oh, it will get better. Sports psychologists, be positive.
I've always said, well, if you make three birdies in a row, you're positive. If you make three bogeys in a row, you're not positive. Which comes first? I think I'm more of a realist and honest and just saying, if you're not going well, you're not good. When it's going well, that's when I'm feeling good.
I think that hurts me, but also I think it keeps me‑‑ I pride myself on being honest with myself a little bit. Sometimes these questions that you guys ask, I think some of the answers that are given are pretty boring, and they're by the book. I try not to be that way. I'm honest about how I'm feeling.
I think it's kept me playing a little bit. I don't know. We'll see. Maybe I'll get a little better and be a little positive sometimes.
BILL HAAS: That's terrible to say that I choke and I throw up on myself, but I'm just honest that I did that, but go from there. How do you get better? Don't do it again, you know. That's my best statement is just don't do that again. Today I didn't do it.
I think it makes it that much sweeter too when you can remember the times that you stunk.
Q. Let me ask you one other thing. I would think most people, when they look at your record and your career would have you as a very good, kind of a perennial top 20 guy but probably still at least one notch away from that next level. What's keeping you‑‑ what do you need to do to get there?
BILL HAAS: Work a little harder. This year I think I'll put in a little bit more work than I have in the previous years. Easy to say now it's paying off.
But all the best players, they're working hard. And the best players‑‑ and there is a level, and I'd love to be a part of that. But the way you guys and, I think, just the golfing world ranks us, it's by the Majors, and I have not had that much success in Majors.
A guy like Jason Day hasn't won that much‑‑ has he won? Sorry. He's won once. But you've got to put him up there, I think, because of how he competes in the biggest tournaments, and he's only 25 years old. He's a stud.
But I would like to be a part of that, but honestly, I would just like to work hard, see the results, and if the next level comes, then I welcome it.
Q. Do you think you're close yet?
BILL HAAS: I think I'm close. If you've won out here, any tournament, you can't say you're far off from being one of the best players in the world. Not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just saying you can do it.
I think mentally, it's something I‑‑ I'm 31 years old, still trying to grow up and still trying to work on that. I think that's what the best players have. They're mentally tough. They're certainly very talented. They beat you with your mind just as much as their sticks.
Q. You mentioned you wanted to be in a special group of players. You actually are in a special group of players. You're now the fourth player on Tour with a win in each of the last four seasons, including this one. That's with Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Rose. How does that feel?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, somebody said that earlier. The first time I went to Kapalua, I said, this is not a tournament you ever want to miss. It's just a great way to start the year. I've already thought about it. Looking forward to it.
To be along those three players, Dustin Johnson is a future major winner. Justin Rose is a major winner. Who was the third? Mickelson, obviously, a major winner. Just to even put my name next to those guys is a start, like you say, of maybe being part of that club.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for your time, Bill. Good luck next week.