Planet Golf — 27 June 2013 by GW staff and news services
Haas birdies way to AT&T victory

BETHESDA, Md. — Bill Haas won the AT&T National on Sunday and joined some distinguished company.

Haas pulled away from a crowd of contenders with three straight birdies, two key pars and one good hop out of the rough. It led to a 5-under 66 on a muggy day at Congressional and a three-shot win over Roberto Castro.

Haas picked up 500 FedExCup points for the win, moving to seventh in the standings. That’s important to Haas, who won the FedExCup in 2011 and failed to qualify for the Tour Championship last year.

As many as six players had a share of the lead at some point until Haas rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8. Worried about a splotch of mud on his ball, he hit his approach to just inside 12 feet for birdie on the par-5 ninth, and then hit a 5-iron to 10 feet for another birdie on the 10th.

Haas led by at least two shots the entire back nine, though he never allowed himself to think about winning until he stood over a 3-foot par putt on the 18th hole and realized he had three putts to win.

“I just kept the ball in front of me,” Haas said. “Nothing too crazy.”

Haas has won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last four years, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. And with a half-dozen players trying to win for the first time, Haas kept a high pedigree of winner at the AT&T National. In the seven-year history of the tournament, Rose was the lowest-ranked player to win. He was at No. 35 in 2010 at Aronimink.

The 31-year-old Haas won for the fifth time in his career, and this was the first one with Tiger Woods on the property — not to play, but to hand out the trophy. Woods sat out this week with an elbow injury and won’t play again until the British Open, though he was impressed with what he saw.

“He played beautifully today,” Woods said. “He handled his business through the tougher stretch of holes and pulled away.”

Castro, part of a four-way tie for the lead at the start of the final round, made Haas work for it.

The other leaders fell away. Andres Romero had a double bogey on the fourth hole and shot 75. James Driscoll didn’t make a birdie in his round of 74.

Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas who needs a win to become a PGA Tour member and be eligible for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, started his day by holing out from a fairway bunker for eagle and chipping in for birdie to tie for the lead. He dropped a shot at No. 11 — the hardest hole at Congressional — about the time Haas was on his critical run of birdies. Spieth had a 69 and finished sixth, pushing his earnings for the year over $1.1 million.

Castro bogeyed the opening hole, and that was his only mistake. He was one shot out of the lead at the turn, couldn’t match birdies with Haas at the par-3 10th, and then stuck with him the rest of the day.

“It helped that Roberto played so well,” Haas said.

Haas, who finished on 12-under 272, never allowed himself to think about winning, even after he seized control around the turn. Congressional wouldn’t let him. Even though he made 15 birdies on the weekend, he remembered the triple bogey on the 11th hole Saturday that temporarily derailed him.

This time, he found the fairway, hit onto the green, took two putts for par and exhaled.

Haas saved par from a bunker on the par-3 13th with a 6-foot putt that swirled 360 degrees around the cup before falling, and then picked up an unlikely birdie on the 14th when his 9-iron was drifting toward a mound covered with shaggy rough to the right of the green. It hopped off the mound to about 10 feet, and he went from a possible bogey to a birdie when he made the putt.

He made one more birdie with a wedge that checked up a foot from hole on the par-5 16th, and Haas was on his way.

The biggest struggle after that was hoisting the silver trophy of the U.S. Capitol over his head in the stifling heat of the closing ceremony on the 18th green.

Haas was still smarting over losing a three-shot lead in the final round at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, making five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round. He had the 36-hole lead at the Memorial until a 76-71 weekend.

D.H. Lee made nine birdies to match a tournament-best 64 and tied for third with Jason Kokrak, who briefly shared the lead on the front nine and had a 69. Stewart Cink closed with a 67 and finished alone in fifth, his best finish on the PGA Tour since he reached the quarterfinal of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in 2010.

Leaderboard: Bill Haas 70-68-68-66—272 (-12); Roberto Castro  66-69-71-69—275 (-9); D.H. Lee 71-66-75-64—276 (-8); Jason Kokrak 71-66-70-69—276 (-8)

Bill Haas 

— Haas entered the final round of the AT&T National in a four-way tie with Robert Castro, Andres Romero and James Driscoll. Including birdies on Nos. 8, 9 and 10, Haas carded a 5-under 66 for a three-stroke win over Roberto Castro. The victory was cemented with a wedge from 84 yards to 9” on the par-5 16th hole, with the birdie giving him a comfortable three-stroke cushion with two holes to play.

— Haas claimed his fifth PGA Tour victory on Sunday: 2010-Humana Challenge, Sanderson Farms Championship, 2011-Tour Championship, 2012-Northern Trust Open, 2013 AT&T National.

— With the victory, Haas earns his fifth career victory at the age of 31 years, 1 month and 6 days in his 229th start, moves to No. 7 in the FedExCup, moves from No. 11 to No. 5 in the President’s Cup standings, adds one year to his exempt status (through 2017), becomes the fourth player on Tour with a win in each of the last four seasons (2010-2013): Phil Mickelson (10), Dustin Johnson (6) and Justin Rose (4), becomes the 12th winner in his 30s this year, notching the 16th win by that group. By comparison, eight players in their 20s have won and three in their 40s.

— Haas becomes the fourth 54-hole leader/co-leader in the last seven years of the AT&T National to carry that lead on to victory, joining Nick Watney (2011), Justin Rose (2010) and Tiger Woods (2009).

— Bill and his wife, Julie, had their first child on May 13 (William Harlan Haas, Jr.)

— Haas now has seven top 10s (equals most on Tour in 2013 and his own career high in 2011) in 16 starts this year.

— Haas led the field this week with 25 birdies, nine of which came during a third-round 68.

Roberto Castro

— Castro, a 2011 Web.com Tour graduate and this week’s first-round leader, posted a final-round 69 to finish runner-up. His previous-best finish was a T7 at the 2012 Greenbrier Classic (48 career starts).

— Castro moves to No. 41 in the FedExCup standings.

— Castro has now made 12 of 20 cuts with seven top-25 finishes. The Georgia Tech graduate’s previous-best finish in 2013 was T16 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

— Castro finished T29 in his first career start at the AT&T National in his rookie season in 2012.

— This week marked the first time Castro has held a third-round lead/co-lead.

— Castro was seeking to become the first first-time winner at the AT&T National.

 

Jordan Spieth

— Special Temporary Member  Spieth, who began the season with no PGA Tour status, played the AT&T National as a Sponsor Exemption and finished sixth this week, his fifth top-10 finish of the season.

— With more than $1.1 million in earnings this season and 569 Non-member FedExCup Points, Spieth is on track to earn his 2013-14 PGA Tour card.

— As a Special Temporary Member, Spieth would need a win to become a regular member in order to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs. He is a rookie and is eligible for the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year award at the end of the year.

— The Greenbrier Classic had awarded Spieth a Sponsor’s Exemption into next week’s event, but he now gains entry into the event based on his top-10 finish this week.

Tournament Notes:

— Four third-round co-leaders and their final-round score/finish: Haas (66/1st), Castro (69/2nd), Driscoll (74/T8) and Andres Romero (75/T13).

— Jason Kokrak finished T3 for his third top-10 finish of the season. His best finish in 47 PGA Tour starts is T2 at the 2012 Frys.com Open. He had missed his last two cuts entering this week (the Memorial and FedEx St. Jude Classic).

— D.H. Lee got “Moving Day” mixed up, following a third-round 4-over 75 with a final-round 7-under 64 to finish T3.

— Stewart Cink finished fifth for his best finish since a T5 at the 2010 World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship. It is his third top 10 finish of the season, equaling his most on TOUR since 2010 (3).

— 2012 FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker (T8) posted a final-round 71 in his 600th official PGA Tour round. This week’s top-10 finish was his seventh of the season (tied for most on TOUR), equaling his career-high totals from the 2011 and 2012 season. Snedeker is currently No. 3 in the FedExCup standings.

— James Driscoll finished T8 for his second top-10 finish of the season, equaling his career-high top-10 total from the 2011 and 2012 season.

— Ken Duke, winner of last week’s Travelers Championship, finished T52 in his bid to become the first player to post his first two PGA Tour titles in back-to-back weeks since David Duval (1997 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill and Walt Disney World Resort Classic).

— Charlie Wi, a five-time  runner-up, finished seventh as he searches for his first  victory (201 starts).

— Masters champion Adam Scott finished T57.

— Leader in Strokes Gained – Putting this week: D.H. Lee (+3.103 per round)

— Leader in Greens in Regulation this week: Jason Kokrak (57 of 72)

— Leader in Fairways hit: Derek Ernst, Jim Furyk, D.H. Lee (41 of 56).

 

 

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