AUSTIN, Texas — No one ever said that golf made sense. You just have to know how to interpret things.
For proof, consider Bill Haas. Sure, he wrapped up a 3-0 group session Friday with a victory against Adam Scott, but there were a lot of caveats attached, given that neither man was on his game. With a few forced smiles, Haas charged to the range and put in a long session.
So, having been ousted by Chris Kirk, 2 and 1, in Saturday’s fourth round of the WGC-Dell Match Play, Haas seemingly was in a better frame of mind.
“I’m pleased to lose playing better,” he said, suggesting that it was disappointing to have played poorly Friday, even in victory. The session at the range late Friday paid dividends. “I tweaked something in my swing, and it helped.”
Whereas he made three early bogeys Friday and stayed alive only because of Scott’s scratchy play, Haas played a tidy round against Kirk: only one bogey and going for about 2 under.
Unfortunately, “today was a day when 3 under wasn’t going to get it done,” Haas said. “Chris played nicely. The key with him is, he always putts it great, so if he drives it well, he’ll be in every hole.”
Kirk agreed with Haas’ assessment and cited a decision to go back to a ball flight that he always favored: the draw.
“I’ve always drawn the ball; I used to hit a big swing hook when I was younger,” Kirk said. “The better my swing has gotten and the more I’ve played, everything has gotten fundamentally better.
“Once I started hitting it really straight, it was harder to play. I didn’t know exactly which way it was going to curve every time. So now I feel like I’m a bowler: throw it up the right side and bring it back.”
Kirk surely is OK with this round-robin format, given that he was on the short end of a 2-and-1 match to Russell Knox in Thursday’s second round. “I’m thankful I got a second chance, that’s for sure,” Kirk said.
No argument with how he proceeded from there, because in a 3-and-2 victory against David Lingmerth and the game against Haas, Kirk played 33 holes in 10 under, with one bogey. Not a bad little roll to carry into the quarterfinal game against Rory McIlroy.
As for Haas, he wore a smile. Shooting a couple under par after making some tweaks to his game pleased him.
Oh, and he officially entered Augusta mode, knowing his next stop is the Masters. In fact, that was a topic of conversation during the match with Kirk.
“He told me he might go up there, and I said if he did, just give me a call, and I’ll go with him,” Haas said.