Haas Wins as Walker Falters


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Hunter Haas birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to win the Knoxville Open. Haas closed with a 3-under 69 to join Shane Bertsch and Justin Bolli at 13-under-par 275.
Bertsch and Bolli each posted 1-under 71s in the final round. Jimmy Walker, a two-time winner who was going for the 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA Tour, struggled to a closing 75. He shared fourth place with Brendan Jones and Zoran Zorkic at 11-under-par 277. Jeff Freeman and Tim Wilkinson were one stroke further back at minus-10.
Haas, Bertsch and Bolli returned to the par-5 18th to begin the playoff. None of the three found the fairway off the tee. Haas and Bolli played their second shots down the fairway, while Bertsch chopped his down the right rough.
Bertsch hit a tree with his third shot, then pitched into the fairway with his fourth. Haas and Bolli each found the green with their third shots. Bertsch finally found the green with his fifth shot, but picked his ball up after Bolli two-putted for par.
Haas, meanwhile, was looking 12-foot birdie putt. He stepped away from it once, then calmly drained the putt for the win.
'It is a monkey off my back,' said Haas, who collected $85,500 for his first tour win. 'The last putt had just enough steam to trickle in. I had backed away to collect my thoughts.'
Haas began his round at Fox Den Country Club four strokes behind Walker. Haas birdied the first and fifth, both par-5s to get to 12 under. Around the turn, he sank back-to-back birdies from the 13th. However, he stumbled to a bogey at the 15th before parring the final three holes.
'I told my caddy we needed to hit fairways and greens and it would pay off,' said Haas, who hit 16 greens in regulation. 'It's a good feeling. Week in and week out I've been trying to get my game in shape and it's finally coming together.'
Bertsch had been in control of the event until late troubles. He birdied four of the first 10 holes to climb to 16 under. He stood two strokes clear of the field, but stumbled to three bogeys over a four-hole span from the 14th to drop back to the pack.
'I never really looked at a scoreboard until the 16th green,' Bertsch said. 'I felt like I was getting close. I gave it away with the three-putt bogeys on 16 and 17.'
Bolli, who won the Chattanooga Classic earlier this year, managed just two birdies and a bogey during his round.
'Today, I hit it well, but the putter wasn't there for me at all,' Bolli said. 'I hit a lot of good shots in there, but I just wasn't converting.'
Walker, who need to win to gain the 'battlefield promotion' to the PGA Tour, birdied the first to get to minus-15. Things went down hill from there. He bogeyed the third and ninth, before a triple bogey at the 14th cost him a shot at the playoff.
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