Golf Claps & Silent Treatment: Tour Championship
Bill Haas has been pegged for golf greatness since he was a teenager. He may finally have reached star status with Sunday’s victory at the Tour Championship.
What no one could have predicted, at least a week ago, was that Haas would emerge as the 2011 FedEx Cup winner, too. Thanks to the playoff series’ baffling points formula – and the leaders’ last-tourney stumbles – Haas’ lone victory of the year earned him the title and $10 million check.
That Haas, 29, came out ahead of Webb Simpson and Luke Donald highlights the conundrum faced by the PGA Tour in awarding points. Looking to create maximum drama at the Tour Championship, the Tour weighs the finale’s results more heavily than the other three FedEx events. That makes it more likely that Tour Championship contenders are also vying for the Cup’s riches, but increases the odds that a player without great credentials – a la Haas – will take the whole enchilada.
Our math skills aren’t up to the task of devising an alternative, so we’ll get to the business of this week’s highs and lows.
Bill Haas: Though he nearly gave it all away with bogeys on two of his final four holes in regulation, Haas was gritty in his playoff with Hunter Mahan. Haas hammered home a 10-foot par putt to stay alive on the first extra hole, then played one of the year’s most memorable shots on the second.
His ball lying on the edge of a water hazard, Haas splashed out a delicate explosion shot that settled with 3 feet of the cup. After matching Mahan’s par there, Haas drained a 6-footer on the third playoff hole to claim his signature victory. So far.
The belly putter: Those murmurs you hear are actually grumbles, and they’re coming from golf traditionalists decrying yet another Tour win for a non-conventional putter. Haas, who anchors a mid-length wand to his belly, joined Simpson, PGA champion Keegan Bradley and WGC-Bridgestone winner Adam Scott among late-season victors using extra-long flat sticks.
FedEx Cup contenders: Of the top five in the points standings heading into the Tour Championship, only Luke Donald contended on Sunday. His third-place finish was easily the best of the group as Justin Rose (T20), Matt Kuchar (T20), Simpson (22) and Dustin Johnson (T23) barely caused a ripple.
If not for Haas’ heroics, this could have been one dud of a climax.