LA QUINTA, Calif. — Bill Haas pulled off another imaginative escape to win the Humana Challenge.
“I think of myself as more of a painter and not a mechanic.” Haas said.
Far less dramatic or lucrative than the shot he splashed out of the water to 3 feet in a playoff victory in the 2011 Tour Championship, Haas came through with another bold play Sunday after his drive on the par-5 18th stopped on top of the front lip of a right fairway bunker.
“You got to come up with something,” Haas said.
Standing in the sand with the ball in dormant grass at nearly waist level, he choked up on an 8-iron and gave it a whack.
“I easily could have whiffed it, could have chunked it and moved it 5 yards,” Haas said.
Instead, he hit it 80 yards down the fairway. That left him 170 yards and he hit safely to the middle of the green to set up his winning two-putt par.
He was afraid to hit left-handed and considered a one-handed shot standing backward.
“Using the little toe of the club left-handed, the water was in play, out of bounds might have been in play, I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that,” Haas said. “I have done the thing before backwards where you do it one-handed and poke it down the fairway. I almost did that.”
Haas pulled ahead with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th and escaped with the par on 18 for a 1-stroke victory. He closed with a 5-under 67 for his sixth PGA Tour title. The 32-year-old former Wake Forest player won the 2010 event for his first tour victory. “Honestly, if you would have told me I would have done this last week, I would have laughed at you,” Haas said. “To be here is an unbelievable feeling.” Haas earned $1,026,000 after making a combined $11.44 million in 2011 in Atlanta. Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman, Brendan Steele, Steve Wheatcroft and Sung Joon Park tied for second. Hoffman and Steele shot 64, Park had a 65, and Kuchar and Wheatcroft 67.