Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Haas as surprised as anyone after victory

LOS ANGELES — Bill Haas knows anything is possible from even the most dire positions. This is the guy who 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.

"A part of me was saying, 'I've done this once, let's do it again,' " said Haas, son of former PGA Tour player Jay Haas. "Another part of me was saying, 'Don't screw this up.' "

Mickelson and Bradley hit their own clutch shots just to get into the playoff.

Haas, who closed with 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 18, which had yielded only six birdies all day.

With tournament executive director Jerry West — "Mr. Clutch" from his days with the Lakers — looking on, Mickelson rammed in a birdie putt from just outside 25 feet, pointing his putter and slamming his fist as the gallery let out a roar.

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.

After all three parred 18 in the playoff's first hole, it was decided on the 312-yard 10th, regarded as the best short par 4 in America. 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.

Mickelson's flop shot landed near the hole and rolled into the back bunker. Bradley was in the bunker, and he did well to blast out to 15 feet, just through the green.

Haas then ended the suspense.

"I never expected to make a 40-footer, especially in that situation," he said. "A little luck was involved."

LPGA: Yani Tseng defended her LPGA Thailand title for her 13th tour victory, birdieing the final two holes to hold off playing partner Ai Miyazato by a stroke. Tseng shot 6-under 66 to finish at 19-under 269. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome shot 72 to finish tied for 21st at 4-under 284.

CHAMPIONS: Kenny Perry shot 2-under 70 for his second tour title, cruising to a five-shot victory in the ACE Group Classic in Naples. Perry set the tour's 36-hole scoring record in relation to par at 18 under.

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