$10 Million Bill

By Doug FergusonSeptember 25, 2011, 8:31 pm

ATLANTA - In the richest playoff in golf history, Bill Haas came up with the shots that matched the money.

With his ball half-submerged on the bank of a lake, Haas blasted out of the water to about 3 feet to save par on the second playoff hole against Hunter Mahan, then got up-and-down for par on the 18th green to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.

Haas won a combined $11.44 million - including $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup.

'It was all or nothing,' Haas said of his shot from the water left of the 17th green.

That's what this playoff felt like.

Mahan had to settle for $864,000 for his runner-up finish, and $700,000 for finishing seventh in the FedEx Cup. The difference between winning and losing was $9.876 million.

Haas won for the first time this year, and the payoff could be more than just a massive bank deposit. Fred Couples makes his final captain's pick on Tuesday for the Presidents Cup, and Haas put on quite a show.

Even if Couples wasn't watching, his assistant captain had a great view: Jay Haas, Bill's dad, was in the gallery at East Lake, and raised his arms as his 29-year-old son delivered the most riveting conclusion in the five-year history of the FedEx Cup.

'I'm proud of him the way he came back,' Jay Haas said.

Only a week ago, Haas was poised to make the Presidents Cup on his own until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill. He was atop the leaderboard Saturday at East Lake until a bogey/double-bogey finish.

And he almost let it get away from him again. Haas had a three-shot lead when he walked off the 15th green, only to make bogey from the trees on the 16th and bogey from the gallery on the 18th for a 2-under 68.

Mahan had to make par on the 232-yard closing hole. He hit a clutch chip - the biggest weakness in his game - and holed a 5-foot par putt for a 71 to join Haas in the high-stakes playoff.

They returned to the par-3 18th and the pressure was obvious with so much money at stake. Haas hit his shot well right, into the gallery for the third straight time, then hit a tough chip to 10 feet. Mahan went in the bunker and blasted out to 6 feet. Haas appeared to be down to his last shot, but holed the par putt to stay alive.

What followed was an amazing turnaround.

From the right bunker, his approach to the 17th on the second playoff hole tumbled down the hill and barely into the lake, the top half of the ball still showing. Mahan hit a pitching wedge to 15 feet, and must have thought the $11.44 million was his.

Mahan was in that same lake on Thursday when he removed his socks and shoes and played back to the fairway, so when he saw what Haas had done, he knew it wasn't over. He just didn't think - no one did, really - that Haas could hit such a spectacular shot.

'I thought I had won on the second playoff hole, and then he hits it out of the water to 2 feet,' Mahan said. 'So it seemed like he was destined to win this week.'

Water splashed upward, and the ball settled 3 feet away. Mahan's birdie putt just missed on the high side of the cup.

Back to the 18th for the third time in less than an hour, Haas avoided the gallery this time and went left of the green. Mahan again found the bunker, only this time he blasted out some 15 feet by the hole and missed. Haas chipped to 3 feet and holed it for the biggest putt of his young career.

He calmly pumped his fist toward the green and let out a huge sigh.

'I'm very fortunate,' Haas said. 'This is pretty unbelievable.'

Haas was at No. 25 in the FedEx Cup, making him the lowest seed to capture golf's biggest prize. He joins a distinguished list of FedEx Cup winners that includes Tiger Woods (twice), Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk.

This FedEx Cup took more math skills than usual, yet it turned out to be the most compelling.

In the final hour of the Tour Championship, eight players still had a chance to win the $10 million prize. Webb Simpson, the top seed, closed with a 73 and finished alone in 22nd, making it possible for anyone who won the Tour Championship - except for Aaron Baddeley - to pass him.

Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, made birdie on the 18th hole for a 69. He needed a three-way tie for second to capture the FedEx Cup, and could have done it had Mahan and Baddeley both made bogey on No. 18 in regulation. Both made par.

Donald wound up in a tie for third with K.J. Choi, who needed birdie on the 18th to get into the playoff. Choi shot 70.

Charles Howell III also needed a birdie to get into the playoff, but came up well left of the green on No. 18 and made bogey. Jason Day had a 30-foot birdie putt to join the playoff and gave it strong run. He missed a meaningless 4-footer coming back and made bogey.


Getty Images

McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.