'Built for long haul,' Haas wins second Humana title

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 26, 2015, 2:08 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – With his ball waist-high, his feet in the bunker and his stance like he was ready to turn on an inside fastball, Bill Haas’ second shot at PGA West’s 18th hole had five possible outcomes:

Snap hook. Shank. Chunk. Whiff.

Oh, and the fifth option, the one that Haas executed: a deft bunt down the fairway, 82 yards, setting up a closing par and a one-shot victory Sunday at the Humana Challenge.

For a player best known for an improvisational par out of the lake at East Lake, this shot hardly rattled him.

“I think of myself as more of a painter and not a mechanic,” he said, smiling. “I don’t have the perfect swing – I wish I could swing like Adam Scott, but I just don’t have that ability. I do think I have the ability to make do with what I have.”

And that was more than enough to secure the most surprising victory on Haas’ increasingly impressive résumé.

Haas fractured a small bone in his left wrist when he fell down stairs last April. Though he had a chance to win in Greensboro, and he didn’t miss a cut all season, he went through 2014 without a win – his first winless year since ’09. He made only two starts after the Tour Championship, and he was so bad in Shanghai, hitting only 11 total greens on the weekend, that he decided to shut it down for six weeks.

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Haas has never been a ball-beater, but this offseason was particularly light, playing only a few corporate outings and ditching the range. When Haas and his team (father Jay and longtime coach Billy Harmon) convened in the desert last Wednesday, “you probably wouldn’t have thought that he’d be standing there right now,” Harmon said.

Haas was impatient. Frustrated. More concerned than he’d ever been heading into a tournament.

Two swing thoughts changed his outlook:

1.) Haas’ clubface was swinging open at the top of his swing, so Harmon worked with him to feel like the club was more square going back. Said Harmon: “That’s a tip my dad told me: Imagine the club has an eyeball on it, and it’s always looking at the back of the ball.”

2.) With his putting, Haas tried to imitate Jack Nicklaus’ relaxed right arm at address. In 1995, when Jay Haas made the Ryder Cup team, Harmon had suggested the same tip to his pupil, because he had looked most comfortable that way. Doing so puts the putter grip more in the crease of Haas’ hand, not his fingers, and lowers his right shoulder to the proper angle when setting up to the ball. Haas finished seventh this week in strokes gained-putting.

“Both he and his dad are the total, quintessential, natural feel players,” Harmon said. “Bill couldn’t even spell TrackMan, let alone know what it was saying.”

Besides, this area has become like a second home to Haas, and his peers might be happy this tournament is moving away from PGA West’s Palmer Private. Since 2010, he has two wins, a playoff loss and another top 10 here. On Sunday, he became the eighth player to win this event multiple times, joining the likes of Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller and Phil Mickelson.

“It’s a great feeling to be that unsure going into a week,” Haas said, “but have it all work out and play like this.”

For much of the final round, it was anyone’s tournament to win. Late on the back nine there were six players tied for the lead, with more than a dozen within two shots. With such a logjam at the top, Haas knew he was one blunder away from slipping out of the lead and into 10th place.

A slippery 20-footer on 16 moved him to 22 under par, and then came the drama on the home hole.

With water looming on the left, Haas took the conservative route and went right with his drive on the par-5 finisher. His ball took an unlucky bounce near the bunker and settled on a mound just outside the sand. He rehearsed the shot left-handed, but that brought both the out-of-bounds stakes and water into play.

“It felt like a train wreck all coming together there, something bad was about to happen,” but instead Haas choked down on an 8-iron and poked it down the fairway.

Much like his splash out of the muck on the 70th hole at the Tour Championship, Haas described his creative play as an “educated guess.”

“You couldn’t teach that,” Harmon said. “That’s talent, figuring that out.”

Haas then used the same club from 169 yards for his third shot, safely finding the middle of the green to set up a two-putt par.

Haas isn’t often discussed as one of the best players in the game, mostly because he doesn’t have a top 10 in a major. But consider this: Since the beginning of the 2010 season, only Rory McIlroy (nine) and Tiger Woods (eight) have more Tour victories than Haas’ six.

Haas’ father wasn’t fully appreciated until recently, either. Jay was a nine-time PGA Tour winner, capturing events over a 15-year span, and he’s still competitive on the Champions Tour into his early 60s.

“Bill is kind of like his dad – they’re not going to be the best players in the world, but they’re built for the long term,” Harmon said. “They’re built to last.”

Haas conceded that he doesn’t think he’s quite as good as the Rorys and Tigers of the PGA Tour, and that’s OK. He knows that he can play with them, that it only takes one week.

“If I can only win one a year for the rest of my career, I would be completely happy,” he said. “Maybe that’s just it; maybe I’m easily satisfied. But if I could play until I’m 50, that’s the ultimate. I hope I am built for the long haul.”

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Wie has hand surgery, out for rest of 2018

By Randall MellOctober 18, 2018, 9:43 pm

Michelle Wie will miss the rest of this season after undergoing surgery Thursday to fix injuries that have plagued her right hand in the second half of this year.

Wie announced in an Instagram post that three ailments have been causing the pain in her hand: an avulsion fracture, bone spurs and nerve entrapment.

An avulsion fracture is an injury to the bone where it attaches to a ligament or tendon.

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I think John Mayer once said, “Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” A lot of people have been asking me what’s been going on with my hand and I haven’t shared much, because I wasn’t sure what was going on myself. After countless MRI’s, X-rays, CT scans, and doctor consultations, I was diagnosed with having a small Avulsion Fracture, bone spurring, and nerve entrapment in my right hand. After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through. So I made the decision after Hana Bank to withdraw from the rest of the season, come back to the states, and get surgery to fix these issues. It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year but hopefully I am finally on the path to being and STAYING pain free! Happy to announce that surgery was a success today and I cannot wait to start my rehab so that I can come back stronger and healthier than ever. Huge thank you to Dr. Weiland’s team at HSS for taking great care of me throughout this process and to all my fans for your unwavering support. It truly means the world to me. I’ll be back soon guys!!!! Promise

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Dr. Andrew Weiland, an attending orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed the procedure.

“It’s been disheartening dealing with pain in my hand all year, but, hopefully, I am finally on the path to being and staying pain free,” Wie wrote.

Wie withdrew during the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with the hand injury on Aug. 2 and didn’t play again until teeing it up at the UL International Crown two weeks ago and the KEB Hana Bank Championship last week. She played those events with what she hoped was a new “pain-free swing,” one modeled after Steve Stricker, with more passive hands and wrists. She went 1-3 at the UL Crown and tied for 59th in the limited field Hana Bank.

“After 3 cortisone injections and some rest following the British Open, we were hoping it was going to be enough to grind through the rest of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to get me through,” she wrote.

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Wie, who just turned 29 last week, started the year saying her top goal was to try to stay injury free. She won the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March, but her goal seemed doomed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both wrists before the year even started.

Over the last few years, Wie has dealt with neck, back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. Plus, there was an emergency appendectomy that knocked her out of action for more than a month late last season. Her wrists have been an issue going back to early in her career.

“I don’t think there is one joint or bone in her body that hasn’t had some sort of injury or issue,” Wie’s long-time swing coach, David Leadbetter, said earlier this year.

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Woods receives his Tour Championship trophy

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 18, 2018, 8:57 pm

We all know the feeling of giddily anticipating something in the mail. But it's doubtful that any of us ever received anything as cool as what recently showed up at Tiger Woods' Florida digs.

This was Woods' prize for winning the Tour Championship. It's a replica of "Calamity Jane," Bobby Jones' famous putter. Do we even need to point out that the Tour Championship is played at East Lake, the Atlanta course where Jones was introduced to the game.

Woods broke a victory drought of more than five years by winning the Tour Championhip. It was his 80th PGA Tour win, leaving him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record.

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Garcia 2 back in storm-halted Andalucia Masters

By Associated PressOctober 18, 2018, 7:08 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Ashley Chesters was leading on 5-under 66 at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters when play was suspended because of darkness with 60 golfers yet to complete their weather-hit first rounds on Thursday.

More than four hours was lost as play was twice suspended because of stormy conditions and the threat of lightning at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

English journeyman Chesters collected six birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy of France. Tournament host and defending champion Sergio Garcia was on 68 along with fellow Spaniards Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, and Australia's Jason Scrivener.

''It's a shame I can't keep going because the last few holes were the best I played all day. Considering all the delays and everything, I'm very happy with 5 under,'' Chesters said. ''The forecast for the rest of the week is not very good either so I thought I'll just make as many birdies as I can and get in.''

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Caddies drop lawsuit; Tour increases healthcare stipend

By Rex HoggardOctober 18, 2018, 3:33 pm

After nearly four years of litigation, a group of PGA Tour caddies have dropped their lawsuit against the circuit.

The lawsuit, which was filed in California in early 2015, centered on the bibs caddies wear during tournaments and ongoing attempts by the caddies to improve their healthcare and retirement options.

The caddies lost their class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court and an appeal this year.

Separately, the Association of Professional Tour Caddies, which was not involved in the lawsuit but represents the caddies to the Tour, began negotiating with the circuit last year.

“I told the guys, if we really want a healthy working relationship with the Tour, we need to fix this and open the lines of communication,” said Scott Sajtinac, the president of the APTC.

In January 2017, Jay Monahan took over as commissioner of the Tour and began working with the APTC to find a solution to the healthcare issue. Sajtinac said the Tour has agreed to increase the stipend it gives caddies for healthcare beginning next year.

“It took a year and a half, but it turned out to be a good result,” Sajtinac said. “Our goal is to close that window for the guys because healthcare is such a massive chunk of our income.”

In a statement released by the Tour, officials pointed out the lawsuit and the “potential increase to the longtime caddie healthcare subsidy” are two separate issues.

“Although these two items have been reported together, they are not connected. The PGA Tour looks forward to continuing to support the caddies in the important role they play in the success of our members,” the statement said.

Caddies have received a stipend from the Tour for healthcare for some time, and although Sajtinac wouldn’t give the exact increase, he said it was over 300 percent. Along with the APTC’s ability to now negotiate healthcare plans as a group, the new stipend should dramatically reduce healthcare costs for caddies.

“It’s been really good,” said Sajtinac, who did add that there are currently no talks with the Tour to created a retirement program for caddies. “Everybody is really excited about this.”