Sunday 17 December 2017

Haas sinks sensational putt to snatch California win

BILL HAAS landed a 45-foot birdie putt to win a three-man play-off for the Northern Trust Open in California.

The 29-year-old carded a fourth-round two-under 69 to earn a share of the overall lead with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley and, on the second play-off hole, produced the magic that earned him a fourth Tour title.

Mickelson was the only one of the trio to drive well at the 10th hole but, despite landing in the rough, Haas finished the better, chipping on to the green and then sinking a monster putt that put the pressure on his rivals. And neither were able to land a birdie of their own, leaving Haas to take the glory.

“I never expected to make a 40-footer, and especially in that situation,” Haas said. “That was a little bit of luck involved, but felt like I put a good roll on it, and it was meant to be, I guess.”

It was a frustrating day for Bradley and Mickelson. The duo, the latter of which was chasing back-to-back titles after winning at Pebble Beach last week, both carded even-par 71s, making no movement in their score column from the third round – although they needed 18th-hole birdies to even force a play-off after Haas shot ahead of them.

“Bill hit a tremendous putt,” Mickelson said. “We're thinking it's a very difficult three, it's a defensive hole.

“You're just trying to make four believe it or not. It's only 290 yards, 280 yards, but you're trying to make par. He ended up making a 50-, 60-footer and that's going to do it.”

Haas’s big finish will have been of particular annoyance to four-time major winner Mickelson, who appeared set fare for a win after a storming five-under 66 on day one. The course dried up for a lot of players after that, though, with Sergio Garcia's stunning final round one of the exceptions. The Spaniard went round in a seven-under 64. But for a five-over 76 on Friday, he could have won himself.

As it was, he shared five under with Jimmy Walker, Jarrod Lyle and Dustin Johnson. England’s Justin Rose was again steady, with his second par round leaving him two under for the week, something world number one Luke Donald would have loved to have been able to say.

Having started out with a solid 70, 72, 71 run, he posted a horror seven-over 78 today, leaving him way down the leaderboard, although likely Ryder Cup rivals Rickie Barnes (eight over) and Stewart Cink (nine over) spared some of his blushes.

Another man to have a bad day was Bryce Molder, who started out a shot behind Mickelson and Bradley and ended it six adrift, dropping five strokes on his way around. Pádraig Harrington, Ireland’s three-time major champion, finished four over for the tournament.

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