Golf Buzz

January 26, 2015 - 9:37am
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bill Haas
Bill Haas won the Humana Challenge Sunday (left) thanks to a clutch shot down the stretch -- something he's done before (right, at the 2011 Tour Championship).

Did you see the shot Bill Haas hit on the final hole at PGA West yesterday? It helped him save par and secure a one-shot victory, the sixth of his career on the PGA Tour and his second in the Humana Challenge.

In case you missed it, here's the shot:

That shot would be remarkable under any circumstances, but especially with the tournament on the line.

RELATED: Haas wins Humana Challenge | Final leaderboard | Winners' bags

It reminded me of another more extraordinary shot Haas pulled off in the 2011 Tour Championship at East Lake on his way to winning that tournament and, ultimately, the FedExCup.

Playing the 17th hole -- the second hole of a playoff with Hunter Mahan -- Haas's second shot sailed left of the green and settled just on the bank of the lake. It looked like his hopes of winning were nothing more than ripples in the water.

The ball was half-submerged -- just enough to give most golfers false hope that they might be able to pull off a miracle shot.

But, that's precisely what Haas did. Playing it like a bunker shot, Haas popped the ball out of the water -- with spin -- and got it to settle 2 feet from the hole to set up a par when most of the world's best players probably would have been delighted just to get the ball on the green.

Haas won the tournament on the next hole.

Sunday's shot at the Humana Challenge may not have been as impressive as that one at East Lake in 2011, but the level of difficulty (particularly when you consider the circumstances) had to be just as high.

I mean, come on, when he told his caddie: "I could whiff it, you know?" did you really think he'd execute the shot as well as he did?

That was impressive stuff.

Bill Haas
Bill Haas prepares to hit his second shot from an awkward lie at No. 18 Sunday.

Nursing a one-shot lead into the final hole Sunday at the Humana Challenge, the last thing Bill Haas wanted to have was a difficult lie. But boy, did he get a doozy.

His tee shot went way right and the ball landed on the lip of a bunker, forcing him to stand in the sand and swing almost parallel in an effort to advance the ball.

WINNERS' BAG: Check out the clubs Bill Haas used to win at La Quinta

He admitted to his caddie, "I could whiff it, you know?" But Haas calmly stepped up and this is was happened next:



You couldn't have asked for a better result, as Haas pulled off a swing worthy of any Major League Baseball player. Haas then hit a solid third shot into the green and two-putted to avoid what could have been a wild multi-player playoff.



January 25, 2015 - 6:14pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Phil Mickelson
PGA Tour | YouTube
Phil Mickelson was coming off of a bogey on No. 16.

We have another example that shows why Phil Mickelson is one of the best golfers when it comes to getting out of a bad situation. 

On the 17th hole during the final round of the Humana Challenge, Phil Mickelson was trying to avoid bogeying consecutive holes when his tee shot went into the canal. Faced with a putt to save par after taking a drop, Lefty did what Lefty seemingly always does and sank it. 

Related: Phil Mickelson hits shot off grandstand in consecutive days

We've seen plenty of examples this weekend of the rocks playing havoc with some golfers. Both Scott Piercy and James Hahn got good bounces off those same rocks on Saturday. During the first round, a different set of rocks redirected a shot by Zach Johnson into the water. Even in Hawaii, Bernard Langer had to card a 10 on a hole after a run-in with lava rocks.  

Mickelson ended his round with a 4-under par 68 to go 15 under for the tournament in his first start of the year. He will skip the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Northern Trust Open next month to spend time with his family. 

January 24, 2015 - 5:12pm
andrew.prezioso's picture
Scott Piercy
PGA Tour | YouTube
Scott Piercy made a birdie on No. 17 after his getting a lucky bounce off the rocks.

In the past 24 hours, we've seen plenty of evidence to prove that a pile of rocks is not a golfer's friend. Scott Piercy is challenging that idea. 

While teeing off on No. 17 during the third round of the Humana Challenge, Piercy's shot bounced off the rocks and wound up coming to a rest in the middle of the green. The results for him could have been much worse, as you can see in the video:


Piercy ended up making the putt for a birdie to move to 3 under for the round. 

Yesterday at the Humana Challenge, we saw a Zach Johnson shot go backwards and land in the water after hitting some rocks. A few hours later at the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, Bernhard Langer ended up with a quadruple bogey after a run-in with lava rocks.

Later on in the round, James Hahn hit a similar shot, and actually got his ball closer to the hole. 

Bernhard Langer
Bernhard Langer's 2015 season got off to a rocky start at the Mitsubishi Electric Challenge.
On Friday afternoon, we saw Zach Johnson hit one of the most memorably worst shots of his career when he got tangled up with some rocks en route to a double bogey at the Humana Challenge. A few hours later in Hawaii, Bernhard Langer saw Johnson's double and raised him three more shots – thanks to his own detour into some rocks.
Langer – the defending champion at the Champions Tour's Mitsubishi Electric Championship – hit his second shot into the lava rocks just off the right side of the fairway on the par-5 seventh hole at Hualalai. Several painful minutes later, he walked off the nearby green with a quintuple-bogey 10. 
When Langer found his ball in the hardened lava, it was well below his feet but was sitting up on the rocks. He took a cut and apparently missed the ball. He made contact on his next swing, but the ball hit the rocks and bounced backward into even deeper trouble in the thigh-high wispy grass.
His next swing left him in roughly the same position, and he finally knocked his ball onto the green with his next shot. Just one thing – he double-hit the ball, and immediately called the one-stroke penalty on himself.
That left him facing a 50-foot putt, and he rolled his ball past the hole on the right side. He banged that putt home from six feet, but the damage was done – Langer had been 3 under through six holes, but found himself 2 over after the disastrous seventh. He went on to shoot an even-par 72 and finish the first round of the 2015 season six shots behind leader Rocco Mediate.  
UPDATE: Langer's score on the hole led to considerable confusion both during and after the round. Both the Golf Channel announcers and the graphic that the channel displayed indicated that Langer made a 9, and the text accompanying the video clip on both YouTube and the PGA Tour website still say he made a 9. His scorecard on the PGA Tour website also said 9, but at some point later was changed to 10. As of the end of Saturday's second round, there is no explanation on the site as to where the 10th stroke came from. 
In any case, the most shocking hole of Langer's senior career came less than a day after a ceremonial dinner in which he received the four big trophies he earned last season. Those trophies were for winning the 2014 Schwab Cup and the money title, and posting the lowest scoring average and being named the Player of the Year. 
Here's the video of a hole Langer will never forget:
Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
Dustin Johnson is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, but hasn't played since before the PGA Championship last summer.
By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press 
Dustin Johnson is returning to the PGA Tour from a six-month break in which he said Friday "it was time to grow up," though he refused to discuss a published report that a positive test for cocaine is what led to his leave of absence. 
"I'm not worried about what people think or what they say," Johnson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "I've just got to be me. I've got a son, a future wife, and I'm really happy. I'm going to enjoy my life." 
Johnson has not competed since he missed the cut at the RBC Canadian Open on July 25. Five days later, he said in a statement he was taking a leave of absence to seek professional help for what he described only as "personal challenges." 
The fact that Johnson will return exactly six months from announcing his leave of absence is sure to raise questions. His first tournament back will be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines on Feb. 5-8. 
Asked if the report was true that he failed a cocaine test, Johnson replied, No." And then he declined to say more. 
"With that, I've said all I'm going to say," Johnson said. "I think I've answered them, and I don't think I need to answer them again." 
He gave an interview earlier this week to Sports Illustrated and to ESPN, part of a strategy to ease back into golf. Still to be determined is how Johnson is received by the public and by his peers. He said he hasn't talked to many players except for the occasional round of golf and workout session with Keegan Bradley because they have the same trainer. 
Johnson is engaged to Paulina Gretzky, the daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky. She gave birth to a son, Tatum, on Monday in Los Angeles. Johnson said they are renting a home in Thousand Oaks, California, but he plans to live in West Palm Beach, Florida. 
"The baby is healthy and we're really happy," he said. 
Johnson declined to say whether the tour threatened to suspend him or recommended he get help. He said he has never been to rehab in his life. He said his issue was how he handled stress — drinking and partying — though he said he did not drink to the point that he felt he needed outside help. 
"It was more of a compounded thing," he said. "I was not enjoying myself. I was not playing the way I wanted to play. I did my fair share of partying. It's not like I was drinking every day. It was more like alcohol abuse -- that's not the right word, but more along those lines. When I drank, I drank too much." 
As for seeking professional help that he mentioned in his statement in August, Johnson said he was working with "a few different people," including one man whom he described as a life coach. 
"He's someone who helps me, give me advice," Johnson said, adding that what he was taught was "nothing I didn't already know." 
"What I've learned a lot is ... with what I do, there's a lot of stress that comes with it," he said. "I never really learned to deal with it. To party was more my way of dealing with stress instead of going to the gym or going for a run. Things that were unhealthy, that was my way to get away." 
Humana Johnson, 30, is among the most talented Americans and certainly among the most athletic figures in golf. He already has eight victories — last year was the first year he failed to win since he joined the PGA Tour in 2008 — and has contended in three majors. One of those was at Whistling Straits, where he grounded his club without realizing he was in a bunker on the final hole and was given a two-shot penalty. That kept him from a playoff in the 2010 PGA Championship. 
In his most recent major, Johnson played in the final group on Saturday at the British Open with eventual champion Rory McIlroy. He wound up tying for 12th. 
His leave of absence kept him from playing the PGA Championship, the FedExCup playoffs and the Ryder Cup, where he was assured a spot on the team. Johnson said he watched a little bit of the matches from Gleneagles and felt bad that he wasn't there. 
But he doesn't feel he owes an apology — or an explanation — to anyone. 
"I don't care what people think," he said. "I mean, do. I want my fans to know I do care about them, and I'm glad for all the ones who have stuck by me. I've had an unbelievable amount of support from my family, friends and fans. And those who aren't fans anymore, that's their choice." 
Johnson said he more excited than nervous about his return, and mostly he is happy about becoming a father. 
"Obviously, I needed to better myself," he said. "I used this time to work on me, and to work on becoming a better fiancee, soon-to-be husband, father. The son has been born now, and it's given me a whole new perspective. Nothing else in the world matters." 
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This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.