Featured Golf News
Haas Enjoys 'Unexpected' Win
Bill Haas wasn't on the top of everyone's list to emerge as the FedEx Cup champion. After all, the 29-year-old came into the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta ranked 25th in Cup points among the 30 players who qualified for a spot in the season-ending event.
But, thanks to his own fine play and some stumbles by the players in front of him, the son of PGA Tour and Champions Tour veteran Jay Haas came through on Sunday, recording his fourth straight round in the 60s and vanquishing Hunter Mahan on the third sudden-death playoff hole with a par.
The result was that Haas not only earned the $1.44 million that goes to the player who takes the Tour Championship title, but the $10 million bonus earned by the overall FedEx Cup winner. After accepting the two trophies and his big paychecks, Haas the younger sat down with reporters for the following interview session. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Bill Haas, our 2011 FedEx Cup champion, thanks to the fact that he's also the 2011 Tour Championship by Coca-Cola winner. You've had some time since that last putt dropped for it to sink in, so give us your reaction on everything that went on today and what this has done for you.
BILL HAAS: Yeah, this is very unexpected, I guess. I thought I was playing well. Last week I had a terrible finish on Sunday, a terrible back nine, and tried not to let that get me down. Just tried to tell myself try and put yourself in that same situation and try to prove to yourself that you can handle it. Even with all that said, I bogeyed two of the last three. Fortunately I made some birdies and was able to do that. Just tried to get in that moment more often. It just happened, I don't know. I played with Luke Donald, and he birdied the last, and I thought that won the FedEx Cup for him, so afterwards I told him, I said, congratulations, I hope that won it for you, I just hope maybe I can win this tournament. That was kind of how it happened.
Fortunate to get in a playoff. It was my third one this year, I was 0 for 2 coming into this one. I told myself it's not over until it's over. You never know what can happen. I could hole this chip, anything can happen. And I did. It was somewhat of a learning experience for me because anything did happen. Hunter played great. Hunter did everything he was supposed to do on 17, I just got very fortunate and pulled off a great shot that might not happen every time. Things just happened for me even though I thought the other side of it last week when I know it doesn't happen for you.
Q. Could you clarify when you actually did find out that you had not only won the $1.44 but the 10 mill? And did you fall out of your chair?
BILL HAAS: Well, we went up and did some TV interviews up in the grandstands there on 18 and both trophies were there and there was no other player, (laughter), so I kind of assumed and I looked at my wife and she was there, and she nodded her head. So that was when I realized.
I saw Tim Finchem, I said, I didn't know I had won this, and he was like, congratulations, you won both. That's what he said, both are for you. Obviously I did what I wanted to do. I wanted to win, especially going into today. I felt like I was in the position even after my finish yesterday. I felt like I was in a position to win the golf tournament, and that was all I could do in order to win the FedEx Cup. I mean, like I said, I don't know how many times I can say the word fortunate, but if Webb plays a little bit better -- or all these things had to happen for me to win, and it did. I don't even know what to say. I'd like to say I did all the right things. I mean, I worked hard, I practiced, I got a new putter, the belly putter is the craze, and I guess it will be even more now. My hands were shaking. My hands were shaking in regulation, in the Playoffs, that last putt there. I don't know how far it was, it looked like 12 feet, it was probably 4. When I hit it, looked like it came off right where I wanted it to, and pretty cool feeling. I've played 170 something tournaments probably, and this is my third win, so it makes all of them so special. This is pretty cool.
Q. Can you walk us through the shot on 17? When did you know you had a shot, and when did you realize how good a shot you had hit?
BILL HAAS: Well, in the air I said, "be good." I thought it was a nice shot. I pulled it a lot obviously trying not to go left of that pin, so it barely missed the pin and just passed it and barely rolled off. I heard people on 18 -- people in the stands on 17 can't see that slope, so I heard the people on 18 moan and groan, and I thought, that can't be in the water. I never would have thought that when it was in the air. My brother caddying was like, yeah, I think it is. I was like, well, there it goes. Hunter has got a shot to hit -- he can pull it in the water, do the same thing. Anything can happen, like I said, and we get up there and that's when I see the ball, and I say in my head, I have a shot. I don't know how it came out perfectly like that. You play it like a bunker shot, for those of you that want to know, if there's a little bit of water, if you don't mind getting your feet dirty, and then blast it out of there. It came out perfect. Lucky.
Q. Was your right shoe all wet, your socks?
BILL HAAS: No, they're pretty waterproof. I can thank FootJoy for that one. Like I said, it wasn't a ton of water, I was up over the sole of my shoe, into the leather, but I didn't have to get submersed or anything like that. I thought for one second maybe take my shoe off, but I would have rather - like I said, it was an all or nothing shot, so if I don't pull it off, I'm shaking Hunter's hand, so it didn't matter if my foot was dirty.
Q. It's obviously the best shot you've ever hit under pressure in your life?
BILL HAAS: I would say so. I think my 3-iron at the Bob Hope for my first Tour win was pretty good. I still think about that one, even when I'm over a 3-iron sometimes I say, you've done this one before. I think the up-and-down on the first playoff hole is going to get overlooked. That one was equally good if not better than the one out of the water. If I don't make that 12-footer down the hill, we're not even talking about this water shot. Yeah, I mean, it was -- I was lucky that it was a shot that I had to do something. I didn't have to guess, so it wasn't like should I bump-and-run it or should I putt it or whatever. I had a shot I had to hit, and I hit it. In that mindset I felt less nervous over that one than I did some other ones, but I won't forget it, that's for sure.
Q. How special to have your whole family here, your brother on your bag, your father, the whole family? How did that help inspire and motivate you?
BILL HAAS: Yeah, my brother has been awesome. He's taken more lip from me the last month and a half than he ever deserves to. I'm sure he'll take this cut he gets from this and probably run with it and say see you later. But it was awesome having him on the bag. My dad coming back and forth, we've had plans with my mom and dad and wife and brother to go to dinner last night and we did that, went and got pizza at this place, I think it's a local -- if you said it, I would know. But I finished bogey, double bogey, and the people you need around you when you do that is your family, people that genuinely care and are genuinely pulling for you. They probably didn't feel quite as bad as I did yesterday after 17 and 18, but they were right there with me living it all. It's awesome having them here. I've got to give that a lot of credit. When my dad watches I seem to perform maybe a little bit -- I'm trying to perform for him, which is nice to have him on the ropes.
Q. Have you had a second to just reflect on the fact that you won this thing by hitting a tee shot in the grandstand, hitting a tee shot in the bunker and then hitting an approach shot in the water? If you add all that together -
BILL HAAS: No, yeah, that's what I said. I can't say the word fortunate or lucky or whatever enough. I hit horrendous shots. I just fortunately hit really good recovery shots. I wish I wouldn't have been in that situation, I wish I could have hit a good tee shot on 16 in regulation and made par, and I wish I could have made the putt from 10 feet on 18 in regulation, and all this wouldn't be -- we'd still be talking here, but it would be not nearly as cool, I guess, or not nearly as exciting for the fans. That's not the reason I did it, but -- yeah, I don't know.
I'm working on hitting better shots under certain pressure, pressure that you put on yourself, pressure that the FedEx Cup brings and the PGA Tour brings and winning a golf tournament, because I don't care what you say, these guys make it look so easy out here when they win. Everybody is like, wow, I just breezed through today. Rory McIlroy breezed through on Sunday at the Open, but guarantee he was feeling something. I think maybe I feel a little more than he feels, and that's something I'm working on. I'm trying to get better. This is something I can take. Like I said, that 3-iron at the Bob Hope I think about. You know what, you have hit great shots coming down before and won, so just relax, do your best, and that's all you can do.
Q. Do you think this gets you to Australia? And will you be in your dad's ear tonight?
BILL HAAS: You know, I'm not going to say it gets me to Australia. It definitely puts me in the talk up there with some of the guys that everybody has been talking about. I did what I could do. I would love to represent the United States in the Presidents Cup and play for Fred Couples, and I just wanted to play well today because I knew if I didn't play well I could easily play my way out of that talk, especially with the way everything is going with my dad being assistant captain, and it would be easy to say that he's getting favored or he didn't get picked because he didn't want to look like he was favored. It could work both ways. However the media wants to spin it, it could be spun as Jay Haas's son got picked as opposed to Bill Haas got picked. But I think winning here helps eliminate that, and that was all I wanted to do, play well, play solid, do what I could do for myself to be looked at as a possible pick. Like I said, I'd love to represent the United States and go down and play The Presidents Cup. I think it would be a memory of a lifetime and an experience and just another stepping-stone for me to try to get better because I definitely have a lot of room to go.
Q. Two-part question: How is it possible that you didn't know you were playing for $10 million?
BILL HAAS: Well, I knew I was playing for it, but even winning it --
Q. No, that the playoff was for the -- when you teed off in the playoff, you did not know you were playing for the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million?
BILL HAAS: Uh-uh.
Q. How is that possible?
BILL HAAS: I didn't ask, and nobody told me and nobody -
MODERATOR: Bill, come on now.
BILL HAAS: Well, I knew if I won, that was the only way I could win the FedEx Cup. If I finished second, I knew I couldn't win the FedEx Cup. So in theory I knew I was playing for it. I'm not going to sit there and say, well, it's not a million on the line here, there's $11 million, let's put some more pressure on it, because it's not worth it. It's not worth that stress. I was just trying to win that golf tournament. And actually even more than that, I was trying to hit good shots in the moment, and even though I did it some of the time, I still was trying to stay not thinking about what's going to happen if this doesn't come off. I was just trying to hit each shot, and now it just fell that way. It's awesome.
Q. The second question is if you did know you were playing for the $10 million in the playoff, would there have been more pressure?
BILL HAAS: I don't know, because like you said, I knew $11 million was on the line somehow, whether Luke Donald won it or Webb Simpson won it or I won it, it was there, so that was in my head. When I was putting for that 4-footer to win, it was just to win the Tour Championship, knowing that was all I could do.
Q. Given how you finished Sunday afternoon at Cog Hill and then again your finish yesterday afternoon, how much more valuable is it to you to have done what you've done to win this thing?
BILL HAAS: It's valuable because I guess in the future I can say, well, it would be good -- it you play well, you might can reward yourself the fortune to bogey two of the last three and still maybe win. I don't know, it's just hard. It's just hard to do it. The back nine on Sunday, guys like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, they make it look like it's just a practice round sometimes, and I know in my head they don't feel that way, they're not relaxed, they're grinding, I get it. But I know what I'm feeling, and it's hard work and it's a grind. Your hands do shake, and it's not because of the -- necessarily the prize, it's just because of winning and winning the golf tournament and you not wanting to fumble down the stretch. I'm still learning when those moments come to grab them by the throat and embrace it as opposed to let it bother me. The more I play, I think I get better at that.
Q. What clubs did you hit into 18? And the second trip down 18 in the playoff, did you think about chipping that rather than putting it through the fringe?
BILL HAAS: I did. They were 4-irons. Even though I hit a bad one in regulation, that 4-iron, I hit it solid, I looked up, I thought it was going to be a good shot and I looked up and it was right and it landed about pin high. So knowing that, I knew I kind of had the right club. It wasn't like I had to second-guess that next in the playoff. I hit a worse shot in the playoff the first time, came down out of the stands, got a shot, and I probably hit at least three people on 18 in the playoff there when you think about it. (Laughter.)
To get to your next point, the putt, I hit 4-irons, and in the last one I felt like I tried a little something different in my swing, be a little shorter and just be aggressive through the swing, don't bail out to the right which was in a sense what I was doing, I was hitting poor, lazy shots out to the right, and I was a little more aggressive through the ball and it went a little further maybe and went to the back. I think it was a little unlucky it didn't come back down so I had a little bit more of a flat putt. But I had -- I was over it and I was guaranteed I was going to putt it, but then I got over it and I realized how much fringe I had to putt through, and sometimes Bermudagrass fringe is tricky to putt through, and ended up going with a putter. It wasn't 50/50; it was probably 70/30 I'd rather putt it than chip it. I was going for less margin for error. Knowing Hunter had 12 feet for par, I went for less margin for error, I guess.
Q. Watching you in the last few holes in regulation and watching you in the playoff, it looked like you seemed calmer, confident in the playoff, something was different, and your brother, I think, agreed with that. Is that accurate?
BILL HAAS: Maybe. I don't know, I'm like a duck on a pond. It's calm on top and the legs are going. In my head I'm telling myself why can't you just hit a good shot here after hitting the poor one. I'm like, come on, you could have done better than that. But then it doesn't take long for me -- I try not to take too long to say, all right, that one is done with, hit the best shot you can on the next one. Unfortunately I hit some terrible 4-irons, but I was able to recover from those. Pretty amazing.
Q. Have you given any thought to what you're going to do with $11.44 million?
BILL HAAS: I have not, not at all.
Q. Does your brother get 10 percent?
BILL HAAS: I don't know how that works. I'll have to ask the previous winners what they did. I think I need to fall in line. I'm sure my money people, whoever I have helping me out with money, they would suggest that I maybe invest it a little.
Q. All of it?
BILL HAAS: I don't know. I don't think you get all of it right away.
Q. You get $9, $1 million deferred.
BILL HAAS: I thought it was $1 million and $9 deferred. But either way the reason for it to be deferred would probably be a smart thing crazy thing that way there's not something I can do crazy with it.
Q. Check your bank account in the morning -
BILL HAAS: I think I need to think about it long and hard, but I do need to give myself some sort of reward, some sort of toy or whatever it may be, I'll reward myself. Me and my wife are maybe in the process of building a house. We've got plans, got land and all that stuff, and this goes right towards it. That's huge. That would be a big chunk. I'll try not to think about it too much. Just the next tournament we play, everybody is even, and I've got to go out and grind it out again. But yeah, I'm laying in bed tonight going, this is pretty cool. I mean, this is -- I was not expecting these thoughts last night maybe. Who knows. I'll tell you later if I buy anything.
Q. When do you play next?
BILL HAAS: The plan -- I don't even want to say. I don't know. The Fall Series, I was maybe planning on playing one event, but that might change now. The plan was to play one fall event and really work hard, kind of get in the gym and do that kind of stuff and treat it as the off-season, get an early start on it and do some work and get away from it, relax. I don't know.
Q. Surely $9 million will build a whole house.
BILL HAAS: It's not going to be that big of a house. I don't know. It'll definitely help.
MODERATOR: Bill, congratulations. Thank you so much.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.