Bill Haas made a surge at the turn and left the rest of the field in his dust as he won his first PGA Tour title in more than a year with a three-stroke victory at the AT&T National on Sunday.
Here are 5 Things to take away from Congressional:
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1. BREAKTHROUGH: Bill Haas hadn’t exactly been lighting things up before Sunday’s victory, missing three of his last four PGA Tour cuts while mixing in a T-4 at the Memorial. He failed to break 70 at the Wells Fargo, Players and U.S. Open.
And, outside of a T-23 in the U.S. Open at Congressional in 2011, Haas had skipped AT&T in 2012, so he had little track record at Congressional.
But nine birdies Saturday – leading to a 3-under 68 – and six more Sunday in a 5-under 66 showed that he wasn’t interested in his seventh top-10 finish of the season.
Haas averaged 1.564 putts per green in regulation (second in field) and had a 2.498 strokes gained putting (second). He also hit just over 76 percent of greens in regulation, leading to 25 birdies over the four rounds. (Click here to see Haas’ winning equipment.)
“My putter was hot. I don’t know how many birdies I made, 23 (sic) or so or something,” said Haas, who had birdies at Nos. 8-10 to distance himself from a five-way tie for the lead at 7 under, adding two more birdies coming in to outlast Roberto Castro.
“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.”
Haas had a chance to repeat as champion at the Northern Trust Open, but played poorly in the final round and settled for a T-3 finish. His final-round 73 isn’t something he blocked out, it was something he learned from.
“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,” said Haas.
Haas is one of four players to win a tournament in each of the last four seasons, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose.
“Just to even put my name next to those guys is a start, like you say, of maybe being part of that club.”
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2. EAGLE HAS LANDED: Jordan Spieth got the crowd roaring early, making an eagle 2 at the par-4 first hole to jump to within a shot of the lead Sunday.
He’d go on to birdie No. 3 and jump into a five-way tie atop the leaderboard, but bogeys at Nos. 11 and 15 saw him fall back and settle for a T-6 finish after a 2-under 69.
Spieth held part of the lead after 36 holes for the first time in his career and said the week at Congressional was a learning experience.
“A lot of positives. I slept on a lead, at least tied for the lead. That was, I thought, really cool,” said Spieth.
“Yesterday was a little off day, and I was really happy to come back and shoot a round of 60 on this golf course today. This is a step in the right direction.”
Spieth, playing on a special temporary status that allows unlimited exemptions, picked up his fifth top-10 finish of the season in only 14 starts – proving his decision to leave Texas after the fall semester to be a fruitful one. He surpassed $1.1 million in earnings on the year with his purse Sunday.
“Starting the year out, I wouldn’t have imagined (being over $1 million),” said Spieth. “I’m just happy to be out here. I’m just happy to be playing week in and week out. I’m lucky to have a place to play.”
Spieth’s solid finish came on the same day that former Longhorns teammate Dylan Frittelli won on the European Tour’s Challenge Tour.
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3. MIDDLE MAN: A day after D.H. Lee made news for on-course antics and not his on-course play, it was the latter that did all the talking Sunday, firing a 7-under 64 to finish a career-best T-3 with Jason Kokrak.
He had one previous top-10 finish, a T-8 at the Zurich Classic earlier this season.
Lee couldn’t avoid questions about the middle finger that he flashed toward the crowd Saturday after an errant shot. Talk on Sunday in Bethesda surrounded the possibility that Lee was responding to “Godzilla!” calls from the crowd, but he squashed that thought immediately.
“It was just out of frustration. . . . I aimed at the ball, not anyone in the crowd,” said Lee, who has made 11 of 16 cuts in his rookie season, but made only $364,830 coming into AT&T. “I regret what I did regardless of the reason.”
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4. MACHINE-LIKE: It might not surprise you that Brandt Snedeker picked up his seventh top-10 finish Sunday – there is a reason why he is third in the projected FedEx Cup standings. Haas also has seven.
What you might not know is that Canadian Graham DeLaet secured his fifth top-10 behind a 2-under 69 a week after coming up a stroke short of getting into a playoff at the Travelers Championship.
Morgan Hoffmann has three top-10 finishes in his last six starts.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Roberto Castro was runner-up for the first time in his career, picking up only his second top-10 performance in two seasons on the PGA Tour . . . A week after his first career victory, Ken Duke faded with a 5-over 76 Sunday to finish T-52 . . . Adam Scott, the highest-ranked player in the field, also struggled to a 76 Sunday to finish 5 over for the tournament . . . 2012 Rookie of the Year runner-up Bud Cauley followed a 9-over 80 Saturday with a 1-over 72 Sunday to finish T-64. Cauley has missed nine cuts in 2013 . . . Gary Woodland secured his third T-16 of the season with a final-round, even-par 71.