Bill Haas shrugs off putting woes with Thursday-best 64 in Phoenix

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Bill Haas watches his tee shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 1, 2018 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Bill Haas shrugs off putting woes with Thursday-best 64 in Phoenix

PGA Tour

Bill Haas shrugs off putting woes with Thursday-best 64 in Phoenix

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Bill Haas is well aware of his struggles with the putter this season. He entered this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open ranked No. 201 on Tour in strokes gained: putting (-0.886). There are 222 players listed in that category.

“My stats putting are really, really bad,” Haas said, “so I’m just kind of searching trying to figure it out.”

Through 18 holes at TPC Scottsdale, though, Haas’ putter has seemed to have found life. Haas gained 3.142 strokes on the greens – that ranked him fifth in the field in Round 1 – and made 125 feet, 4 inches of putts during an opening 7-under 64 on Thursday. He leads five players at 5 under, a group that includes Tour winners Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk and Bryson DeChambeau.

Haas made five putts outside of 12 feet, including a 19-footer for eagle at the par-5 15th, a 29-foot birdie at the par-4 second and a 14-footer par save at the par-4 11th.

“This is only one round; I’m not saying I’m cured by any means,” Haas said. “I’m still grinding and practicing.”

Haas credits the improvement with the flatstick to some recent work with putting coach Stan Utley. Haas was frustrated with his results – he’s missed three cuts in six starts this season with a best finish of T-17 – so he did what normally does and called his dad, Jay Haas, who then recommended his son dial up Utley.

The last time Haas had worked with Utley was about four or five years ago, Haas said. Together, they fixed Haas’ stroke to where Haas feels like the putter head is coming off the ball quicker. Haas wouldn’t get into further specifics about what all he fixed with his putter, but it is the same one he’s been using and it is helping him make more putts.

“I’m trying something pretty different, actually,” Haas said, “so sometimes when you do something different like that the ball starts rolling a little better and hopefully that will continue.”

Haas hasn’t won since the 2015 Humana Challenge, now called the CareerBuilder Challenge. His next tournament after that win just happens to be the last time Haas played here in Phoenix before this year. That year at TPC Scottsdale, Haas finished solo 76th, thanks in large part to a closing 77.

“It was really bad weather; it was cold, ball wasn’t going anywhere, and I found it really, really difficult,” Haas said. “… I remember thinking I didn’t want to come back.”

One silver lining: He did birdie the par-3 16th hole twice – and with no bogeys. After a birdie Thursday from 3 feet on this tournament’s signature hole, Haas now has three birdies in his last five trips to No. 16.

Why has Haas played that hole so well? Haas, knowing the nature of the hole – a hole that on paper seems easy but is anything but in that kind of raucous atmosphere – responded: “Ask me again after the week.”

Haas is hoping that question comes during the winner’s press conference on Sunday.


More Golfweek