Haas, Mickelson, Bradley put on fantastic finish

By Randall MellFebruary 20, 2012, 2:26 am

LOS ANGELES – Move over, Kobe.

Outta the way, Chris Paul.

Down in front, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Robert Downey Jr.

Bill Haas is Mr. Big Shot here in the shadow of Tinseltown, if only for one wild, wacky and wonderful afternoon at Riviera.

First, Haas wins the $10 million FedEx Cup jackpot with his great escape from the water at the end of the Tour Championship last September. Now this. Now Sunday’s 43-foot birdie putt to slay the wickedest little hole in golf and win a playoff at Northern Trust Open. Now this clutch finish to upset the overwhelming crowd favorite, Phil Mickelson, and Mickelson’s surprisingly popular sidekick, Keegan Bradley.

“To beat guys like Keegan and Phil, guys of their caliber, it’s amazing and something I’ll never forget,” Haas said.

Does golf end any more dramatically than it did Sunday? If you didn’t like that finish, you don’t like golf.

Martin Scorsese couldn’t have scripted a more riveting final scene.

Mr. Big Shot prevailed in an ending chock full of big shots.

Haas won at the second playoff hole, at No. 10, a wicked, wicked little hole, maybe the wickedest little par 4 in golf. He won after enduring a nerve-wracking wait on the practice range, a brutal pause on his adrenalin button to see if either Mickelson or Bradley would birdie the 18th hole to force a playoff.

The first roar told Haas the game was still on. A second should have jarred him, rattled him, but it didn’t.

At the foot of the historic Riviera clubhouse, in a gorgeous little natural amphitheater around the 18th, Mickelson and Bradley scripted one of the most memorable finishes in the 10 decades this event has been played.

First, Mickelson ignited a roar of giddy delight, rolling in a 27-foot birdie. After celebrating with a roundhouse punch, and skipping over Bradley’s line to retrieve his ball, Mickelson whispered something to Bradley, his pal.

“Join me,” Mickelson told him.

Bradley did, rolling in his 13-foot birdie putt to make all those fans erupt yet again.

“Even though I didn’t win the tournament, to make that putt on the last hole, one of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour, is really awesome,” Bradley said.

Down on the practice range, nobody would have blamed Haas if he waved a white flag, but he didn’t.

Before the putts dropped, Haas turned to his brother and caddie, Jay Haas Jr.

“No matter what happens from here on, this is pretty cool,” Bill told Jay Jr. “We’re on the range warming up to maybe go into a playoff.  We're doing a lot of good things just to be in this situation.”

Haas said he prepared mentally for a playoff.

“Secretly, I was hoping they didn't [make the putts],” Haas said. “But I expected them to make it.”

Haas wasn’t the favorite, not among the Southern California galleries who rooted hard for Mickelson all day, and almost as hard for Bradley. They’ve both won major championships. Though Haas, 29, has now won four times in less than three seasons, he isn’t in that major championship class. Not yet, anyway.

“I don't say this in a negative way, but everybody was cheering for Phil,” Haas said. “He just won this last week. He’s the man. If I'm at home, I'm cheering for Phil. Everybody was saying, `Go Phil, go Phil.’ Keegan has a big fan base. I think he was easily more popular than I was in that group. I'm not saying fans did anything wrong. I just was somewhat under the radar.”

At the second playoff hole, the 315-yard par-4 10th, Mickelson and Bradley sprayed tee shots right and short of the green. Haas blew a driver left of the green, in the rough but at a better angle to attack that back-left pin.

Haas walked to his ball remembering how his dramatic blast to escape from the water won him the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup jackpot late last summer.

“Part of me was saying, I have done this once before, let’s do it again,” Haas said. “Another part of me was saying, don’t screw this up.”

Even from a decent angle, Haas couldn’t pitch at the pin. He pitched 43 feet right of the pin and was happy just to keep the ball on the green there.

“I never expected to make a 40-footer, especially in that situation,” Haas said. “That was a little bit of luck involved, but I felt like I put a good roll on it.”

When Bradley missed his birdie chance, and Mickelson failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, Haas put his name on the trophy with his stunning birdie. That’s Bill “Mr. Big Shot” Haas.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm