2005: PGA Tour - Haas handles pressure down stretch
Winter Garden, Fla.
Bill Haas already had tasted the disappointment of narrowly missing a PGA Tour card once this year. But in the final stage of Q-School at wind-blown Orange County National, there would be no repeat performance.
In late October, Haas bogeyed four of his last seven holes at the Nationwide Tour Championship. He finished 23rd on the money list and just missed a trip to the Big Show. This time he birdied the final two holes at OCN’s Panther Lake course to earn 2006 playing privileges on the number.
“This is what everybody here wants to do,” Haas said Dec. 5 after a final-round 72 tied him for 26th at 11-under-par 421. “To birdie the last two holes to sneak in is going to make the drive back to Greenville (S.C.) pretty sweet.”
No doubt, those two birdies made Haas’ father, PGA Tour veteran Jay, feel pretty sweet as well.
Jay Haas followed his son all day, frequently jumping ahead of the group to call and text-message family members on Bill’s progress.
The prognosis, however, appeared bleak as the sixth round neared its end. After bogeying three holes early on the back nine, Haas appeared to be destined for another disappointing finish as he faced a slick, downhill 10-footer for par at No. 16.
He poured the ball into the heart of the cup.
“Big putt there,” an onlooker said to Jay Haas.
“They’re all big at this point,” said the relieved father.
That particular putt, Bill Haas later said, was the catalyst that set up the conclusion to the round.
“It was tough,” said Haas, who graduated from Wake Forest in 2004, when he was college golf’s consensus player of the year. “I thought I was going the wrong way. I thought I was going to be doing it again next year . . . but to save par there and still have a shot on the last two (holes) was pretty good.”
Haas stuck his tee shot to 7 feet at the par-3 17th and sank the birdie putt to inch closer to the magic number. And after a wayward drive found the left rough on the par-5 18th, Haas caught a break – a fluffy lie from which he rocketed a 7-iron 203 yards to the middle of the undulating green.
Two putts later, he was PGA Tour-bound.
“I was shaking,” Haas said. “I was nervous, but somehow I got the ball in the hole.”
He did something else: Haas passed the Q-School examination at the same age (23) as his father. The elder Haas, also a Wake Forest alum, passed Q-School on his first attempt in 1976 and never returned.
That certainly is a stat Bill Haas would like to emulate. After the round, he addressed the pressures associated with being the son of a famous father.
“I like looking over at him, he makes me feel more comfortable,” Haas said. “Some people say it should make you more nervous. But for some reason, he makes me relax and grind harder. He makes me care.
“Of course, I’m (playing) for myself out there. But it’s nice showing him that I can do it.”
No need to prove that anymore.