Old-school style perfect fit for Haas at AT&T

By Jason SobelJune 30, 2013, 10:08 pm

BETHESDA, Md. – Bill Haas is what you’d call an old-school golfer. He doesn’t wear phosphorescent colors that can be seen from three fairways away. He doesn’t pound his chest like an NFL receiver after every birdie. He even wins on old-style courses, with Congressional joining Riviera and East Lake on an impressive list of recent venues he’s conquered.

But maybe the most traditional thing about him is that he has no sports psychologist, mental guru or shaman on speed dial. Never has, either. And he certainly doesn’t own a “life coach” as one of his fellow contenders this weekend described his personal sounding board.

Other touring professionals may be shocked to realize that Haas is left to his own devices in the middle of the night, tossing and turning while visions of bogeys dance through his head, but it seems to be working for him. His victory at the AT&T National on Sunday placed him in an elite foursome alongside Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose as the only players to win in each of the last four seasons.


AT&T National: Articles, videos and photos


It also means that while those other competitors have worked long hours to accentuate the positive and done everything but try one of those Men In Black-type neutralizers to erase any memories of the negative, Haas is like the PGA Tour’s own elephant. He never forgets.

It allows him a thought process that would leave any sports psychologist, mental guru or shaman worth his weight in Xanax cringing at the idea.

Here is just a sampling of his comments about recent play from his post-round interview session:

“I had a three-shot lead starting the last round and really felt good there, and it didn't happen – threw up all over myself in the middle of that round …”

“… I was proud of the way I hung in there at the U.S. Open, just threw up over myself when we came back after the delay …”

“… as many times as I've choked and hit bad shots and I've been nervous and it hasn't worked out, I was feeling all those things today …”

“… all of a sudden, I made one birdie, I'm like, alright, you don't have to choke too bad here; you can go the other way.”

Paging Dr. Phil. This guy uses the terms “choked” and “threw up” so much he’d make Johnny Miller queasy.

The truth is, if Haas finds something troubling him, he’ll talk it over with his dad Jay – a longtime PGA Tour veteran – or swing instructor Billy Harmon. For the most part, though, he practices the antithesis of modern beliefs.

If he “chokes” (as he maintains he did at last year’s BMW Championship, failing to gain a spot in the playoff finale) or “throws up” on himself (as he said of a three-stroke 54-hole lead at this year’s Northern Trust Open that turned into a third-place finish), he bottles it up and remembers it the next time he’s in a similar position.

“That's terrible to say that I choke and I throw up on myself, but I'm just honest that I did that,” he said after a final-round 66 secured a three-shot victory. “How do you get better? Don't do it again, you know. That's my best statement is just don't do that again. Today I didn't do it.”

The epitome of old-school continued …

“I'm just being as honest as I can be here. Obviously, I could sit here today and say today I blanked all that out and I was so focused and that's the reason I won. … L.A. has sat with me all year, honestly. You can't let one round bother you, but the way I played those holes in the middle of that tournament really was disappointing. [But] it only makes this week that much sweeter.”

Right now there may be 131 other players who competed at Congressional saying to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Bobby Jones once famously said that golf is a game played in the 5½-inch space between the ears. So many players have taken that notion to the extreme, choosing to work on the mental game as much as the physical and technical parts, but Haas is proof that it’s not only shiny, happy people who can claim the shiny, happy hardware on Sunday afternoons.

Not that it always works. Haas understands the need to stop beating himself up for certain things on the course. But understanding and acting upon that are two different things – and he struggles with the latter.

“He can't help himself sometimes,” Jay said. “I stress to him it's OK to get mad, but being negative and beating himself up is not the answer.”

Maybe not, but it worked again on Sunday, just as it has on at least one occasion during each of the last four years.

The sports psychologists, mental gurus, shamans and – yes – life coaches won’t like hearing it, but Bill Haas’ ability to accentuate the negative has often led to a positive result.

Like he admitted, “I think it makes it that much sweeter, too, when you can remember the times that you stunk.”

If that’s not the epitome of old-school, nothing is.

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Kang (69) wins Buick LPGA Shanghai by two

By Associated PressOctober 21, 2018, 9:11 am

SHANGHAI - Danielle Kang shot a 3-under 69 on Sunday to win the LPGA Shanghai by two strokes for her second career title.

Kang, who started the final round one stroke off the lead, offset a lone bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with four birdies after the turn to finish at 13-under 275 and hold off a late charge by Lydia Ko, who had the day's lowest score of 66.

Ko, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey, tied for second at 11 under with a group of seven players that included Brittany Altomare (71), Ariya Jutanugarn (71) and overnight co-leader Sei Young Kim (72).


Buick LPGA Shanghai: Articles, photos and videos


Carlota Ciganda, who also held a share of the lead after the third round, shot a 73 to fall into a tie for ninth with Bronte Law and local favorite Lu Liu.

Paula Creamer carded three birdies against a pair of bogeys for a 71 to finish in sole possession of 12th place.

The tournament is the second of five being played in South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan in the LPGA's annual Asian swing.

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New world No. 1 Koepka already wants more

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 8:48 am

If there is a knock on Brooks Koepka, it’s that he’s a little too cool.

Gary Woodland, who threw 11 birdies at Koepka on Sunday and still finished four shots back, inadvertently captured that exact sentiment after Saturday's third round.

“You know," he said, "Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much."

In context, Woodland meant that there was little anyone in the field could do to rattle the 54-hole leader. (He proved himself right, by the way.)

And out of context, the comment speaks to the general narrative surrounding Koepka. That he’s just detached enough for fans to have trouble attaching themselves to him. That he’s just a jock here to cash checks and collect trophies, to kick ass and chew bubblegum.

But for a few moments Sunday in South Korea, it became clear that Brooks Koepka does care. Crouched on the 72nd green with some time to stop and think as Ian Poulter lagged a bit behind, Koepka finally let a moment get to him. Cameras caught the three-time major champion appearing unusually emotional.

Of course, less than a minute later, those same cameras caught him yawning. The contrast was almost too perfect. It was as if he knew he had just been found out and needed to snap back into character – which he did.

He promptly poured in an eagle putt to cap off a final-round 64, to win the CJ Cup by four, and to ascend to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.


Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos


“To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid,” Koepka said on the 18th green, moments after closing out his fifth PGA Tour victory and third this year. “I don't think this one's going to sink in.”

What is beginning to sink in is that Koepka now unequivocally belongs in the conversation, the one golf fans and analysts have been having over and over since Tiger Woods fell from golf's greatest heights.

Who’s the best at their best?

In the two years between his first PGA Tour win and his first U.S. Open victory, Koepka was touted as having the kind of talent to compete with the game's elites. It took him a little while for him to get here, but Koepka has taken over as the latest player to look like he’ll never lose again. Just as it was for Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas before him, this is Koepka's moment. This is his run of dominance.

It’s a run that will have to end at some point. Every one of the guys just mentioned did cool off eventually. Koepka will, too. Maybe it will be fatigue, maybe it will be injury, and maybe it’ll just be golf. This talent pool is simply too deep for anyone to remain on top for too long.

But what Koepka has done this year – in defending his U.S. Open title, in staring down Tiger at the PGA, in claiming the Player of the Year Award, in ascending to the top of the world rankings – is put his name at the forefront of the conversation. If he was unappreciated at times before, those days are behind him. He's already accomplished too much, proven himself too good, to be overlooked any longer.

And he’s far from done.

“For me, I just need to keep winning,” the new world No. 1 said Sunday. “I feel like to win a few more regular Tour events and then keep adding majors. I feel like my game's set up for that. I've gotten so much confidence off winning those majors where, it's incredible, every time I tee it up, I feel like I really have a good chance to win whether I have my A-game or not. It's something I'm so excited [about] right now, you have no idea. I just can't wait to go play again.”

Watch: Koepka holes out from off the green at 16

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 21, 2018, 5:36 am

Brooks Koepka faced a stiff challenge from Gary Woodland on Sunday in South Korea, but eventually it came time to end the suspense.

Having clung to a slim lead for much of the back nine, Koepka looked as though he was going to have to scramble just to save par when he missed the green at 16. 

Instead, caddie Ricky Elliott was able to leave Koepka's putter in the bag.

That holeout combined with a bogey from Woodland at 17 put Koepka ahead by three, allowing him to walk to victory and to the top of the world rankings.

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Koepka wins CJ Cup, ascends to world No. 1

By Nick MentaOctober 21, 2018, 5:07 am

Brooks Koepka eagled the 72nd hole Sunday to cap off a final-round 64, win the CJ Cup and supplant Dustin Johnson as the new No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here's how Koepka took over the golf world Sunday in South Korea.

Leaderboard: Koepka (-21), Gary Woodland (-17), Ryan Palmer (-15), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-15), Jason Day (-12), Scott Piercy (-12)

What it means: This is Koepka's fifth career PGA Tour victory but only his second in a non-major, following his maiden win back at the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Up four to start the day, Koepka saw his lead evaporate as Woodland rocketed up the leaderboard and kept pace with him for much of the back nine. But every time Sunday's result appeared in doubt, Koepka reclaimed his lead in dramatic fashion. He nearly aced the par-3 13th to go ahead by two and later holed out for birdie at the par-4 16th to go up three with two to play. He finished par-eagle at 17 and 18 to shoot a back-nine 29 and close out his third victory in the last five months. With the win, Koepka ascends to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in his career.

Round of the day: Ryan Palmer set a Nine Bridges course record when he birdied his final seven holes in a row en route to a bogey-free round of 10-under 62 and a solo third-place finish.

Best of the rest: Woodland played his first 16 holes in 9 under par to storm from five back and catch Koepka atop the leaderboard. But his furious Sunday charge finally came to an end when he failed to get up and down for par from the back bunker at 17. He carded his 11th birdie of the round at the 18th hole to sign for 63 and finish solo second.

Biggest disappointment: In retrospect, Woodland called it correctly on Saturday when he said: "You obviously want to get off to a good start and put pressure on him as soon as you can. You know, Brooks doesn't seem like he cares too much, and he's playing so good, so you're going to have to go out and post a number." Woodland put as much pressure on Koepka as he could. He went out and posted that number. Koepka never blinked.

Shot of the day: Koepka's holeout at the par-3 16th, which put him ahead by three, unofficially ending the proceedings:

Quote of the day: "To be world No. 1 is something I dreamed of as a kid. I don't think this one is going to sink in." - Koepka