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Bill Haas on familiar turf at Congressional as he prepares to defend title

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bill Haas returns to Congressional Country Club for the Quicken Loans National as the defending champion, but as much fun as it is to recall last year's victory, it's not what he'll be dwelling on this week.

"I'm a big believer in you have to break off the rear-view mirror, good and bad," said Haas. "But it was fun to relive those moments for sure."

Haas won the event with a final-round 5-under 66 in 2013, but shot 1-under during his practice round on Wednesday.

"The game changes weekly I think, daily even," said Haas. "You can shoot 63 and feel so good and wake up the next day and you don't feel like you can make a par. You have the confidence from doing it, from being a part of it and holding the trophy, but you also understand that you have got to go out there and play well, because it doesn't matter. The golf ball, we always say, it doesn't know who's hitting it. So it doesn't know if a defending champion is hitting it or a Monday qualifier."

Haas had a good round Wednesday morning but bogeyed two par-4 holes — one on each end of the course. His experience here will provide a boost once the competition begins. He particularly mentioned the 11th hole at Congressional that gave him trouble last year.

"I think last year I made a triple- and a double-bogey on it," said Haas. "Luckily my putter was hot all week and it made up for those. But you just can't do that in any tournament and expect to get away with it. That was just a freak week for me. I think if you can play that hole 1 1/2- or 2-over par, you're not going to lose ground on the field. Obviously the key is to hit the fairway from there, get it on the green, and if not, get it in that left bunker. And I think you can play to any pin, get up-and-down and go on to the next tee and be happy with it."

Haas, who has been criticized in the past for his temper, also discussed keeping his cool on the course.

"I think I definitely let my mind-set affect me poorly out on the golf course," Haas said. "But generally I think I'm just that competitive; I want to do well. ... The best players all do it. Even the nicest best players, they all get fired up on the golf course and get mad. [But] they learn from them, and it makes them a better player. It's pretty rare that you just see a guy just not care or laugh about it and that help positively. I think it's almost a fake. You do care. If you don't care, I don't think you're successful out here."

Despite the storylines leading up to the event and the tough field at this year's National with the return of Tiger Woods and others, Haas has come to Congressional ready to compete.

"Walking around like I was saying, I was telling stories about shots I hit [last year]," said Haas. "I do remember winning and how great it felt."

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