A frentic,wildly unpredictable final day at the Tour Championship ultimately ended with Bill Haas winning both the tournament and FedExCup honours,though it took a while for his double success to sink in.
The 29-year-old American sealed victory by beating compatriot Hunter Mahan in a sudden-death playoff but did not realise he had also scooped the season-long playoff jackpot of $10 million until the trophy presentation. We did some TV interviews up in the grandstands there on 18 and both trophies were there, Haas told reporters after clinching his third PGA Tour title.
And there was no other player,so I kind of assumed, he added,sparking widespread laughter in the interview room. I looked at my wife and she nodded her head,so that was when I realised.
Every player in the elite field of 30 began the week with a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup and on Sunday points leader Webb Simpson and British world number one Luke Donald were among the likeliest. However they both fell short,Simpson finishing 22nd when 18th place would have earned him the $10 million bonus while Donald came even closer,tying for third when outright third would have been enough.
I knew $11 million was on the line somehow,whether Luke Donald won it or Webb Simpson won it or I won it,it was there,so that was in my head, said Haas. When I was putting for that four-footer to win,it was just to win the Tour Championship,knowing that was all I could do.
Haas knocked in a four-foot par putt at the third extra hole,the par-three last,to seal victory with Mahan having bogeyed after hitting his tee shot into a greenside bunker and splashing out 15 feet beyond the cup. The putt earned Haas a combined total of $11.44 million for winning the richest playoff of all time in golf.
This just worked out for me, a smiling Haas said greenside at East Lake Golf Club after pumping his right fist in celebration,removing his cap and embracing Mahan. Im very fortunate. It is very unexpected.
Asked how he had felt lining up the putt that ultimately sealed victory,he replied: My hands were shaking. I dont know how far it was. It looked like 12 feet,it was probably four. When I hit it,looked like it came off right where I wanted it to. This is my third win,so it makes all of them so special. This is pretty cool.
The pair had finished the 72 regulation holes on eight-under-par 272,Haas squandering a three-shot lead with three holes remaining to close with a two-under 68 and joint overnight leader Mahan carding a 71. British world number one Luke Donald birdied three of the last five holes for a 69 to finish in a tie for third with South Korean K.J. Choi (70) and Australian Aaron Baddeley (72).
Haas played with Donald in Sundays final round at East Lake Golf Club and he initially thought the Briton had wrapped up playoff honours after finishing with three birdies in the last five holes. He birdied the last,and I thought that won the FedExCup for him, Haas explained. So afterwards I told him,Congratulations,I hope that won it for you,I just hope maybe I can win this tournament.
I was fortunate to get in a playoff. It was my third one this year and I was 0 for 2 coming into this one. But I told myself its not over until its over. I could hole this chip,anything can happen. And I did. It was somewhat of a learning experience for me because anything did happen.
Haas,who came into the Tour Championship ranked a lowly 25th among the 30 in fray,ended up sweeping the honours against the odds. I dont know how many times I can say the word fortunate,but if Webb plays a little bit better…all these things had to happen for me to win,and they did, he said.
He was watched on Sunday by his father Jay,a successful Champions Tour player who triumphed nine times on the PGA Tour. Haas comes from a family of accomplished golfers. His great uncle Bob Goalby won the 1968 Masters. Jay also happens to be an assistant to United States Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and his son may have done enough at East Lake to earn the final wildcard pick on the 12-man team.
Couples will announce his two picks on Tuesday to complete the 12-man team to take on the Internationals at Royal Melbourne in Australia from November 17-20. He has already promised one of those spots to Tiger Woods.
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