It was a crowded leaderboard all week during the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. That is, until Bill Haas got hot on Sunday and ran away from the rest of the field to capture the title.
Haas, who started Sunday’s final round in a four-way tie for the lead with Roberto Castro, Andres Romero and James Driscoll, earned the win with a nearly flawless final round. He made six birdies on the day, including three straight on nos. 8 through 10 to really take control of the tournament once and for all. The lone flaw in his round was a bogey on the par-4 fifth hole, but that wasn’t enough to derail his rhythm.
If you ask Haas, the reason he was able to play so solidly is simple. He accepted all the nerves that piled up on him, and just let them go. That had to be hard to do, considering how many times he’s come close to victory over the last year and couldn’t quite finish the job.
“You’re going to be nervous; try to enjoy being nervous,” Haas said to the Washington Times. “That’s hard to do because when you’re nervous, you feel like you’re going to hit a bad shot.
“I think there was a couple times today where I could feel it coming, and I just took a few deep breaths. There were a couple of putts where I felt really comfortable over a few of them that maybe I wouldn’t have normally if I hadn’t been in this situation a few other times.”
This is a huge win for Haas, who now has at least one victory on the PGA Tour in each of the last four years. That puts him in a group that only includes himself, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, and U.S. Open winner Justin Rose. Not bad company, if you ask me.
Speaking of high society, tournament host Tiger Woods seemed duly impressed with Haas’s performance, even if he was a bit jealous that he couldn’t be out there playing this week. “He played beautifully today,” Woods said. “He handled his business through the tougher stretch of holes and pulled away.”
It’s really amazing when you think about it. Bill Haas now moves to seventh in this year’s FedEx Cup standings, won the whole thing in 2011 and missed qualifying for last year’s Tour Championship by a single stroke. He’s been one of the best players on Tour over the last several years, but just doesn’t carry the kind of “star power” you’d expect from that kind of record.
I’m sure that’s just fine with him. Coming from the family line he does, Bill Haas has heard about it all his life. Just keep this up, and he’ll be making another deep run in the FedEx Cup playoffs.