Sunday, February 19

Haas Slips by Mickelson and Bradley in L.A.

Bill Haas
IT WAS THE FEDEX CUP CHAMPION, the PGA champion and the people’s champion in a sudden-death playoff to decide the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club. Bill Haas, who waited on the driving range after posting a 7-under total, was joined in overtime by PGA winner Keegan Bradley and crowd favorite Phil Mickelson when the latter two sank clutch birdie putts on the 18th green, a difficult par-4 hole that yielded few 3s on Sunday.

The three players returned to the 18th tee to begin the playoff. Three pars and it was on to the 10th hole, a drivable par 4 that can deliver as much drama as Downton Abbey. Mickelson and Bradley hit their drives short and right, Lefty in the rough and Keegan in the bunker. Haas smashed his tee ball long and left. The defending FedEx Cup champion played a safe pitch to the heart of the green. Phil’s flop shot from the kikuyu grass was long and trickled into a bunker. Bradley played a terrific shot from the sand that stopped on the back fringe.

Then the dagger—Haas drained his 45-foot birdie putt. Lefty’s bunker shot that he had to hole came out weakly. Bradley misfired from medium range, and it was over. That sneaky Haas kid (actually, he’s 29) won his fourth PGA Tour title.

“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.”

Maybe Phil missed Tiger. Lefty couldn’t summon the magic on the greens that propelled him to victory a week ago at Pebble Beach. But he did make that unlikely 27-footer at the 72nd hole to get into the playoff. Bradley was also up to the moment. He is a young player who welcomes the pressure.

It was great stuff as I watched snow fall outside my window. I miss California the most in February. Thank goodness I can watch the PGA Tour.

1 comment :

Troy Vayanos said...

Such an exciting finish to a golf tournament. Always good to see 3 players fighting it out and then going to a play off.

Great final round by Sergio Garcia as well who might be starting to get back to some of his best form.