By Seth Kerr
GolfWRX Staff Writer
Bill Haas won in a playoff against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley at the Northern Trust Open when for most of the day it appeared no one would take control of the tournament.
It looked like Haas would win in regulation after hitting a towering three wood from 292 yards and knocking in the putt for eagle on the par five 17th hole. On No. 18, Haas hit his approach short of the green but got up and down to finish at 7-under with a one-stroke lead.
Mickelson and Bradley came to No. 18 needing birdie to tie Haas. The 475-yard par 4 had only relented 30 birdies the entire week and six birdies on Sunday, but someone forgot to tell Mickelson and Bradley.
Mickelson putted first, jarring one in the heart of the hole from more than 25 feet to tie Haas. Amid the roars from the crowd, and after fist bumping Mickelson, Bradley poured in a 12 footer to join them in the playoff.
The players returned to No. 18 for the first playoff hole and tied with par. Bradley had the best chance for victory, just missing his 15-foot putt for birdie.
All three players found trouble on the second playoff hole, No. 10, a short but difficult 312-yard hole. After hitting their drives, Mickelson and Bradley were short sided on the right, while Haas found the rough on the left. Neither Mickelson nor Bradley could keep their approach shots on the green while Haas had to leave his shot well short of the pin to keep from rolling off the back.
Haas, playing first, rolled in his right to left 45-foot birdie putt, while Mickelson couldn’t hole out from the sand and Bradley missed from just off the green, giving Hass his first victory of the year and fourth of his career.
“I never expected to make a 40-footer, especially in that situation,” Haas said. “A little luck was involved. I guess it was meant to be.”
Of course, Haas is no stranger to miraculous shots in a playoff after his up and down from the water hazard at last year’s season ending Tour Championship.
“A part of me was saying, ‘I’ve done this once, let’s do it again,'” Haas said. “Another part of me was saying, don’t screw this up.'”
Mickelson will be lamenting what could have been, never getting it going after his opening round 66. Mickelson struggled all day after making two early birdies, missing three straight putts from inside 10 feet on the back nine.
Bradley could do no better, bogeying five holes and looking more fidgety and nervous than normal. Bradley, known for his quirks on the course, backed off a number of shots and never looked comfortable.
Sergio Garcia had the round of the day shooting a 64, three better than the next best round. Garcia started on the back nine shooting 6-under with two eagles, before slowing down with a 1-under front nine.
The first World Golf Championship of the year starts Wednesday at the Accenture Match Play Championship, while the PGA Tour heads to Mexico for the Mayakoba Golf Classic.