Haas wins stunning playoff at Riviera
Monday, February 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Bill Haas knows anything is possible from even the most dire positions. Remember, this is the guy only five months ago saved par with his ball partially submerged in a lake and won the FedEx Cup.
Not even Haas could have imagined such a stunning conclusion Sunday at Riviera.
In thick rough behind the 10th green, the second hole of a three-man playoff with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Haas smartly played away from the flag with hopes of making par and going on to the next hole.
He wound up holing a 45-foot birdie putt across the green to win the Northern Trust Open.
• • •
Are you ready for some Bracket Mania? Fill out a free bracket for the WGC-Match Play and enter to win tons of prizes from Cobra-Puma, EA Sports, Golf Pride, Big Green Egg or Fujikura!
• • •
"A part of me was saying, 'I've done this once, let's do it again,'" Haas said. "Another part of me was saying, 'Don't screw this up.'"
Mickelson and Bradley worked their own heroics just to get into the playoff.
Haas, who closed with a 2-under 69, was on the practice range at 7-under 277 as he warmed up for a playoff only he thought might happen. He was trying to convince himself that Mickelson or Bradley — maybe both — would make birdie on the 18th hole, even though it had yielded only six birdies all day.
With tournament executive director Jerry West — "Mr. Clutch" from his days with the Los Angeles Lakers — looking on, Mickelson rammed in a birdie putt from just outside 25 feet, pointing his putter and slamming his fist as the gallery packed into the hill below the stately clubhouse let out a cheer that could be heard down Sunset Boulevard.
Mickelson bumped fists with Bradley and told his protege, "Join me."
That he did. Bradley's birdie putt from just outside 12 feet took one last, slow turn at the cup and disappeared, setting off another enormous cheer. No one had to tell Haas what was happening.
"You heard the cheers," he said.
They started the playoff on the 18th, and Bradley had the best look at birdie with a 15-footer from just off the back of the green that touched the right side of the cup.
It was decided on the 312-yard 10th hole, regarded as the best short par 4 in America, certainly among the most interesting holes in all of golf. It can be reached with a drive, but it's all about position — and none were in a particularly good spot.
Haas went long into thick rough, with enough of the back bunker in his way that he smartly played out to the right and left himself a long birdie putt that at least would assure him par.
Mickelson and Bradley each came up short, a horrible angle. Mickelson's flop shot landed near the hole and rolled into the back bunker. Bradley was in the bunker, and did well to blast out to 15 feet, just through the green.
Haas ended the suspense with his putt.
"I never expected to make a 40-footer, especially in that situation," Haas said. "A little luck was involved. I guess it was meant to be."
Bradley, who closed with a 71, missed his birdie putt after Mickelson, who also had a 71, failed to hole his bunker shot.
"I didn't think he was going to make that one," Bradley said. "I should have known, though, because he's a great putter and a great player."
Mickelson, who rallied from six shots behind with a 64 to win last week at Pebble Beach, was trying to become the first player since Tiger Woods in August 2009 to win back-to-back on the PGA Tour.
"Bill hit a tremendous putt," Mickelson said. "We're thinking it's a very difficult 3. It's a defensive hole. You're just trying to make 4, believe it or not."
Haas went one better with his putt across the green.
"That's going to do it," Mickelson said.
Mickelson missed three straight putts from just inside 10 feet on the back nine — two for par, one for birdie — but atoned for it with his birdie on the 18th, the longest putt he made all day.
"I kept fighting, and I was giving away shots and was trying to let it go and move on and see if I could capture one, and I finally got one to go on 18," Mickelson said. "It felt great."
The feeling only lasted two holes.
Haas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title and moved to No. 12 in the world.
"To beat guys of that caliber is amazing, something I will never forget," Haas said.
Mickelson seized control early with the best shot he hit all week. With pin tucked in the back right corner on a new green at the fifth hole — a deep swale behind it and to the right — Mickelson hooked a 9-iron that started out toward the gallery and wound up 4 feet away for birdie.
That put him at 9 under, two shots clear of Haas, who had birdied the par-3 sixth two groups ahead. Jonathan Byrd, who had been tied for the lead, made double bogey on No. 5 with a hooked tee shot into the hay.
All it took was a pair of mistakes by Mickelson to turn the back nine into a shootout, with a half-dozen players in the mix.
He missed the dual fairway on the eighth and couldn't reach the green, chipped 6 feet by the hole and missed the par putt. Then, he failed to clear the fairway bunker on No. 9 and had no chance of getting home. His wedge was 20 feet short, leading to another bogey.
The game was on.
Haas started the back nine with a birdie to take the lead, only to give it back with consecutive bogeys when he came up short on the 12th and missed the fairway left on the 13th. Bradley and Mickelson each made birdie on the 11th to reclaim a share of the lead, then took turns falling out of the lead — Bradley missed the green to the left on No. 13 for bogey, Mickelson with a three-putt from 50 feet on No. 14.
Mickelson three-putted again from 70 feet on the 15th, but Bradley also missed a 7-foot par putt on the same hole.
Four players had at least a share of the lead throughout the final round. Dustin Johnson was not among them, though he stayed in the hunt until the end. Needing a birdie to match Haas, he leaked his approach to the 18th and then bladed his chip across the green. He had to scramble for bogey and a 71, putting him in a tie for fourth.
Garcia never had a chance to win, though the Spaniard sure made it interesting.
He hit 3-wood to 10 feet for eagle on No. 11, holed a 4-iron from 207 for eagle on No. 15 and birdied the 18th for a 30 on his opening nine. When he holed a birdie putt across the third green, he was 8 under for the day through 11 holes, and only three shots behind.
His momentum ended with a bogey on the par-3 fourth, and he had to settle for a 64, the best round of the tournament.
Winning never entered his mind.
"Everything had to be absolutely perfect for me," Garcia said. "I obviously couldn't make any bogeys. It's not that easy."
Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, struggled after the opening round and closed with a 78.
Check out how the fourth round broke with our Sunday Tour Tracker:
• • •
Take a chance?
7:15 p.m. EST
• Off the tee: Phil Mickelson takes 3-wood and comes up well short and in the rough, leaving a near impossible lob shot over the greenside bunker. Bradley also takes 3-wood and finds trouble as well, finding that greenside bunker on the down slope. Haas pulls driver and lands in the rough on the right, but has the easiest shot at the pin.
• Approach shots: Haas chooses to not go after the pin and lays up to the middle of the green. Mickelson plays a lob shot and it lands near the pin and runs off the green and into a greenside bunker. Bradley plays a spectacular shot out of the bunker and will be putting from just off the green behind the hole.
• Third shots: From 43 feet, Bill Haas sinks his birdie putt to put plenty of pressure on Mickelson and Bradley. Mickelson doesn't get the ball high enough out of the bunker and is eliminated from the playoff. Bradley's putt starts on line, but it fades under the hole and Haas wins the tournament.
• • •
Back to the 18th
6:55 p.m. EST
• Off the tee: Playing No. 18 on the first hole of the playoff, Phil Mickelson puts it in the middle of the fairway and will have another good look at the green. Bradley follows Mickelson and hammers it at least 30 yards past Mickelson to the right side of the fairway. Haas also flies it past Mickelson and it settles on the left side of the fairway.
• Approach shots: Mickelson, with 7-iron, places it in the middle of the green. Haas, with 9-iron, comes up short of the green and will have a chip to the pin. Bradley, with pitching wedge and 161 yards, lands it next to the pin and it trickles to the back of the green, but he'll have the shortest putt of the group.
• Third shots: Haas hits a chip from off the green and puts it to within three feet of the cup. From 36 feet, Mickelson comes up about two feet short. That leaves Bradley with a chance to close out the tournament, but the ball burns the right edge of the cup.
• Fourth shots: All three players tap in for par to send the playoff to the short par-4 10th hole.
• • •
6:40 p.m. EST
With only six birdies at No. 18 on Sunday, both Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley hammer their tee balls into the fairway - Mickelson on the left-center and Bradley on the right-center.
From 169 yards, Mickelson hits 9-iron with his second shot and it trickles right off the back edge of the green, but he'll be able to putt it. And he drains the 27-footer, and the crowd goes nuts, as does Mickelson.
From 152 yards, Bradley takes wedge and lands it under the hole and it runs out to pin-high, about 14 feet left for a birdie. Bradley also makes it and now we are headed to a three-way playoff at Riviera.
• • •
One last chance
6:25 p.m. EST
With Bill Haas in the clubhouse at 7 under, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley will need a birdie in their final two holes to catch him.
Bradley's drive at the par-5 17th hole hits a fairway bunker, he lays up in the fairway to about 175 yards from the pin and hits his third shot over the pin and had 29 feet for birdie. It comes up about a foot short and he settles for par.
Meanwhile, Mickelson pounds a drive and goes for the green in two, but hit the greenside bunker and short-sides himself. He nearly lands his bunker shot in the hole, but it bounds by and he also had about 21 feet for birdie. He left in one revolution short and also settles for par.
Both players will need an improbable birdie at the tough par-4 18th to force a playoff.
• • •
New clubhouse leader
6:17 p.m. EST
Bill Haas hits a nice drive, but his second shot is a bit fat and came up well short of the green at the 18th. He chips to within five feet and drains the putt to finish at 7 under, one shot ahead of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley - both of whom are playing the par-5 17th.
Dustin Johnson, one shot off the lead, was over the green in two on the 18th, but plays a horrible chip out of the rough and two-putts for a bogey to finish at 5 under for the tournament.
Bradley and Mickelson hit the small green at the par-3 16th hole, with Bradley flying right over the flag and Mickelson landing it pin-high to the right and having the ball trickle to within 12 feet.
Bradley's putt stayed left of the hole and he had to tap in for par. Mickelson ran his putt past by about two feet and also settles for par. Both players trail Haas by a shot.
J.B. Holmes wrapped up his tournament with a 69 and is in the clubhouse at 5 under.
• • •
A new leader
5:54 p.m. EST
Bill Haas has used a birdie at No. 17 - he nearly had an eagle after reaching the green in two at the par-5 17th - to overtake both Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for the lead.
Mickelson and Bradley both picked up bogeys on No. 15, with Mickelson three-putting for the second-straight hole and Bradley missing a four-foot par putt after missing the green with his approach shot. Both players are now at 6 under.
Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson also birdied No. 17 to move to 6 under, one shot off the lead. Johnson is playing with Haas.
• • •
5:40 p.m. EST
This time, Phil Mickelson is the one to pick up an unexpected bogey.
After hitting the green off the tee at the par-3 14th, Mickelson three-putted - including a poor lag putt - to fall back to 7 under.
Meanwhile, Keegan Bradley makes it a routine par to move back into a tie for the lead.
• • •
Lefty back out front
5:20 p.m. EST
Keegan Bradley picks up his fourth bogey of the day, paying the price for a poor second shot at the par-4 13th. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson picks up a simple par and re-takes the lead.
Bradley set himself up perfectly off the tee, but yanked his second shot to the left of the green, landing on a steep slope back up to the green. His pitch back to the green doesn't have enough mustard on it and settles on the fringe.
Mickelson put his second shot on the right side of the green and he played a simple chip to the hole and saved par.
• • •
5:03 p.m. EST
At the par-4 12th hole, Phil Mickelson misses a birdie attempt under the hole, while Keegan Bradley gets up-and-down from the greenside rough and they remain tied at 8 under, two shots clear of the nearest competitor.
Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia finishes his torrid round with a par and cards a 7-under 64 and finishes 5 under for the tournament.
• • •
Back to where we started
4:45 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley both birdie the par-5 11th hole to move to 8 under, one shot clear of Bill Haas. Both went after the green in two, came up just short and put their third shots to within five feet.
• • •
Logjam at the top
4:38 p.m. EST
Bill Haas picks up his first bogey of the day, missing a short par putt on No. 12 to fall back into a three-way tie for the lead with Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson.
Three players are within one shot and five more players are two back. Among those in the latter group, Sergio Garcia missed a short part putt at the par-4 7th to fall back to 5 under.
• • •
4:19 p.m. EST
Sergio Garcia picked up his fifth birdie of the day (he also has two eagles) and has moved to 6 under for the tournament (8 under for the day). Garcia rolled in a lengthy birdie putt at the par-3 6th hole.
Bill Haas is maintaining his one-shot lead over Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and Jonathan Byrd. Dustin Johnson and Jimmy Walker are tied with Garcia at 6 under, two shots back.
• • •
Haas takes lead, Phil stumbles again
3:59 p.m. EST
Bill Haas rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at No. 10 to move to 8 under, which was tied for the lead until Phil Mickelson made a bogey at No. 9, his second consecutive bogey. Haas is now the solo leader.
Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia put the brakes on his 59 watch, missing a three-and-a-half-foot par putt at No. 4. Garcia is now 5 under and three shots back.
• • •
Sergio continues to surge, Phil bogeys
Sergio Garcia is now 8 under on the day after making an 48-foot birdie at the third, his 12th hole of the day.
Garcia has now made two eagles and four birdies in his final round. After leader Phil Mickelson made bogey at the eighth, Garcia is now two back of the lead.
Mickelson leads Bill Haas and Jonathan Byrd by one shot.
• • •
Big moves on the leaderboard
3:05 p.m. EST
Phil Mickelson has opened a two-shot lead, picking up a birdie on No. 5 to move to 9 under for the tournament. Meanwhile, Jonathan Byrd made up a double-bogey on No. 5 and then birdied No. 6 to move to 7 under with Bill Haas. Overnight co-leader Keegan Bradley is falling fast after bogeys at Nos. 4 and 5 and is now four shots back of Mickelson.
Sergio Garcia continues his hot run and is now 7 under on his round (thru 10 holes) and 5 under for the tournament.
• • •
Big names struggling
2:40 p.m. EST
Stewart Cink started the tournament in nice fashion (an opening 69), but has fallen way back on the leaderboard, including currently 6 over for his final round. Rickie Fowler, Spencer Levin and Y.E. Yang are all 4 over on Sunday.
• • •
Byrd makes a move
2:30 p.m. EST
While Phil Mickelson started the day hot with a birdie at No. 1 (a par 5), Jonathan Byrd opened with two birdies in his first three holes to move into a tie with Mickelson for the lead. Keegan Bradley started his day with a birdie, followed it with a bogey and just picked up a par at No. 3 and is one shot off the pace. There are five players - including Jim Furyk and Bill Haas - two shots back.
Furyk is 4 under thru six holes on Sunday, while Sergio Garcia has the best round of the day going, going 5 under thru his first seven holes (he started on the back nine). Garcia is five shots back of the lead currently.
Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.