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Haas holds on to land Humana title
26 Jan 2015 10:10
Bill Haas landed his sixth PGA Tour title after a tense finish to the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, California.
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The 32-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina, posted a closing five-under 67 for an aggregate 22-under 266, holding his place at the summit where he began the day in the company of three others.
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Rivals from further down the leaderboard scored lower over the final day on the PGA West Palmer course, with Charley Hoffman and Brendan Steele charging to a share of second place with rounds of 64.
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But Haas went clear with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 16th, and held on.
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He found the fringe of a fairway bunker with his drive at the par-five 18th, leaving the ball precariously placed on a ridge.
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It meant the five men one shot off the lead - Americans Hoffman, Steele, Matt Kuchar, and Steve Whitecroft, together with South Korean Sung Joon Park - were put on alert for a possible play-off.
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Haas, needing to make par, considered a host of unorthodox shots as he assessed the position of the ball, before settling for smartly punching out to make certain of a safe fairway lie for his third shot. From 175 yards, he put the ball 20 feet away from the flag.
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With two putts for the title, Haas sent the first to within two feet and coolly obliged with the tiddler to take the trophy and million-dollar pay cheque.
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Minutes earlier, Kuchar had missed an 11-foot birdie putt at the last to join Haas on 22 under, rolling the ball narrowly past.
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Haas, earning his first win since the AT&T National in June 2013, said on Sky Sports 4: "I called my wife before the week started and said I didn't think I'd be able to score this week.
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"On the last hole I was grinding it out to the end. Sixteen was huge. I needed that one to give me a chance. This is unbelievable. This is great."
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The fright coming down 18 was one he was relieved to come through without any damage on his scorecard.
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"I can't tell you what I was thinking," Haas said of his wild tee shot. It was a bad drive. To end up there was pretty bad luck. It was a terrible break but maybe deservedly so with the bad shot."
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Haas was celebrating his second title in La Quinta, having won the tournament in 2010 under its previous guise as the Bob Hope Classic.
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He made a famous up-and-down from shallow water on his way to winning the 2011 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup - which paid him over 11 million US dollars.
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And Haas was reminded of his shot-making abilities in trying circumstances after his latest win, which showcased that element of his game.
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"That shot I'll remember for a long time because that wasn't the easiest eight iron I've ever had," Haas said of his second at the 18th. I do think of myself as more of a painter than a mechanic. I'm more of a natural golfer."
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He added: "I easily could have whiffed it, I could have chunked it and moved it five yards, then I would lay up from there and then need to get up and down to win.
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"It felt like a train wreck all coming together, as if something bad was about to happen."
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Francesco Molinari was the leading European in a tie for 10th place on 19 under par, following a closing 67, with Scotland's Martin Laird and German Alex Cejka in a share of 15th after both finished with rounds of 69.
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Phil Mickelson began the week slowly but found his groove and settled for a share of 24th place.
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