Bill Haas Wins Hope Classic
Bubba Watson began the day tied atop the leaderboard and finished the day tied for second a single shot behind winner Bill Hass despite shooting a 66 in the final round. Finishing on Monday due to a rain out earlier in the week, Mr. Haas birdied the final hole for his first Tour win at a tournament his father Jay won in 1988. “To win the same tournament I won is special, and then for me to get to see it—that’s really special,” said Jay Haas, who texted his son on Sunday night with a simple message: “Hit when you’re ready, and never before.” Winning finally fulfilled the expectations of the younger Mr. Haas has carried with him for the last 140 starts on Tour. “I’d been wanting to win from the first tournament I played, but it’s a process, and there’s a lot to it,” said Haas, a touted rookie in 2006. “It’s special, but I don’t know if it’s a monkey off my back. I know how hard it was to win, and I’m grateful.” Now the only expectation is when will he win again. It ain't easy being blessed with loads of talent in a sport your father was pretty good at as well.
Matt Kuchar knows what it's like being blessed with talent and saddled with expectations. Mr. Haas spent most of the day chasing him after a blistering eight birdies in eleven holes. Amazing how fast one can run and hide in this game, and yet fall back by only managing one birdie in the final seven holes. That was compounded by a par on the 18th hole instead of a birdie. “It’s a hole where you’re counting on making a 4,” Kuchar said. “I put myself in a difficult situation … but shooting 63 is fantastic. I wasn’t sure if I had that much in me today. It was a great round of golf.” Indeed it was, and while it wasn't quite enough to win, it was good enough to join Mr. Watson in second place.
Also in second place, for the sixth straight year on Tour, was Tim Clark who has yet to win an event in America. “I made a bunch of birdies, (and) you would think that I putted my eyeballs out, but I missed a lot of short ones,” Clark said. I've been intrigued by his ability to play so very well and yet never capture the trophy at the finish. I have to think the adage about keeping yourself in the thick of things regularly will eventually pay off in a win for Mr. Clark. He's too good a player not to have Lady Luck smile on him at least once. As with all things, time alone will tell. “There’s always going to be an exciting day with so many guys bunched in there, and I started to make some birdies on the back nine to get back into it,” Clark added. “When you know you have to make birdies, it makes things a little bit easier.” I'm not sure what that means exactly, since I believe birdies are required to win most events that are not Major Championships. But it makes for a good quote.
So now it's off to Torrey Pines, where a Tigerless tour will be joined by world number two player Phil Mickelson. Farmers Insurance Group got a discounted deal to host this tournament, as newly austere GM's Buick division decided low key played better than ostentation after the US taxpayers bought the company. What doesn't work so good for them is the fact they only had a couple of weeks to advertise the affiliation with the tournament. In this economy, and without it's biggest, brightest star, it will be interesting to see what kind of turnout the event garners. Ticket buyers and television audiences are the numbers to watch here. As for the TV numbers, should you choose to watch my advice is to mute the sound whenever Jim Nantz goes into one of his schmaltzy promo modes. I've begun to feel like I've been covered in sickly sweet syrup after he finishes one of those blurbs.
On another note entirely, Jim Thorpe has to turn himself in to Federal authorities by April 1 to begin serving a one year sentence for failure to pay his taxes, more than $2 million worth of taxes. That is a large mistake in mathematics. Apparently the "I misplaced a decimal point" defense didn't work so good. After the jail time he's got two years supervision and 200 hours of community service. During the time of his supervision he'll need to repay those taxes. I wonder how many exhibitions he'll need to play to raise two million bucks? Too bad he couldn't get a job with the Treasury Department, I hear you can forget to pay your taxes and still get a good job working for them.