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Bill Haas starting to get his own attention
Question of the Day
It took Haas longer than he expected to get going, but the numbers are starting to add up. It was the third straight year Haas has won on the PGA Tour, one of the best gauges of a player moving up. He advanced to No. 12 in the world, a ranking difficult to dispute.
And it was his fourth career win, a number that could be even higher if not for playoff losses a year ago in the Bob Hope Classic and the Greenbrier Classic.
Of the Americans still in their 20s, only Johnson with five has more. Johnson is generally regarded as the best young American in golf, a winner of two FedEx Cup playoff events (BMW Championship in 2010, The Barclays last year) who already has played in the final group at three majors.
There is a simplicity to Haas‘ swing that would suggest he’s in this for the long haul. He doesn’t make constant trips to Palm Springs to see Harmon. They talk every now and then on the phone. Haas tells him what he’s feeling in the swing, Harmon might make a suggestion, or sometimes says nothing more than, “Keep it up.”
“Bill does it with an effortless _ almost like Fred Couples _ swing,” Harmon said. “It’s a swing that is not marred by thought. He’s an under-instructed player. His father was smart enough not to give him too much instruction, and I was lucky to have Claude Harmon as a father who said, ‘You can’t teach talent, but you can screw it up.’ It would take a golfing moron to try to change Bill Haas‘ swing.”
Riviera was only the latest big win for Haas.
Five months ago, he won the Tour Championship and the $10 million prize for capturing the FedEx Cup. He closed with a 68 at East Lake, despite two bogeys in his last three holes, and beat Hunter Mahan in a playoff made famous by one shot. With his ball partially submerged in the lake to the left of the 17th green, Haas splashed out to 3 feet to save par and extend the playoff.
Some misunderstood Haas last year at Quail Hollow, where he opened with a 64 and said he was striving to have a season like the one by Matt Kuchar, who consistently placed in the top 10. It made it sound as though Haas was happy to cash a big check, but his point was that the more chances he gives himself, the better the odds of winning.
This was his first chance to win this year, and he cashed in.
Even with his name recognition, and memories of his improbable water shot that led to a $10 million payoff last year, Haas felt as if he were the forgotten player in a three-man playoff.
“Everybody is cheering for Phil. He just won last week. He’s the man. And if I’m at home, I’m cheering for Phil,” Haas said. “Keegan has a big fan base. I think they were easily more popular than I was in that group. I’m not saying the fans did anything wrong. I just was somewhat under the radar, I guess.”
He might not have that luxury much longer.
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