Hunter Haas snapped a four-year drought on Sunday with his third-career Nationwide Tour victory, carding a final-round 7-under 65 to win the Price Cutter Charity Championship by a tournament-record six strokes over a hard-charging Jamie Lovemark (65), Jason Schultz (66) and Jonas Blixt (69).
Haas, with a five-stroke cushion, laid up on the par-5 18th hole and then hit a wedge to 12 feet. He calmly rolled in the birdie putt for the victory and the $112,500 first-place check.
“It is an easy putt when you have a one-inch break and a five-shot lead,” said Haas, who led the field this week with 101 putts. “This feels great. This is why we play this game. The adrenaline rush, the butterflies on the first tee … it is all of that. That is what makes it so rewarding when you accomplish your goals and defeat the golf course that week.”
Haas entered the final round with a two-stroke cushion over Kyle Thompson and Jonas Blixt and was steady the entire day. He posted birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 8 – offset only by a bogey on the par-4 fifth hole – to pull well ahead of most of his competitors. Lovemark, however, posted a bogey-free 5-under 31 on the front nine at Highland Springs and then added an eagle on the par-5 11th hole to pull within one shot of Haas’ lead.
“I knew Jamie made a move early,” said Haas, who hit nine of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in regulation on Sunday. “But I just had to focus on my game.”
Haas added birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 14 (a chip-in from 20 yards) and 18 on the back nine to finish 26-under, falling just one stroke shy of Doug LaBelle’s tournament-record winning score in 2006. Lovemark was unable to mount a late rally, playing the final seven holes at even par.
“I felt comfortable coming down the last few holes, but you can’t think that way,” said Haas. “You have to stay focused and continue to try and make birdies. I did that all day and it paid off. In the past that is what guys have done here. You have to go low. I took that mindset and built off of my confidence and released it. I released all of the tension and played golf the way I know how.”
The victory has been a long time coming for Haas in Springfield – one of his favorite stops on Tour for a variety of reasons. He has never missed a cut at Highland Springs Country Club -- with five top-25s and previous-best finishes coming in 2007 (tied for 13th) and 2008 (tied for 15th) -- and has never failed to post an under-par 72-hole score. In eight starts, he is now a collective 101 under par at the event.
Springfield also holds a special place for Haas as it is the home of Rick Neal -- Haas’ swing instructor and the Director of Golf at nearby Hickory Hills Country Club. Golf aficionados will recognize Hickory Hills as the home course of the late Payne Stewart.
“When I’m hitting it bad here (Highland Springs), I can fix it over there at Hickory,” said Haas earlier in the week “I stay with him every time I’m here. They treat me like a son. A lot of their members I’ve became friends with. I feel like a lot of people are pulling for me here. I’m comfortable here.”
The Nationwide Tour takes a week off before traveling to the Volunteer State for the Knoxville News Sentinel Open, the same event where Haas posted his first-career win in 2004 and his most recent win before Sunday in 2006.
“Has it been that long?” asked Haas, who moves to No. 10 on the official money list. “It is about time. I’ve been close several times. You just keep trying to win more tournaments. The bottom line is to put yourself in position to win and it will pay off. I’ve played so well in the last month that I almost felt due.”
Final-Round Notes: Hunter Haas how now played his last 12 rounds in the 60s, finishing tied for 11th at the Cox Classic, tied for fourth at the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open and first this week. During that stretch he is a combined 60 under par. … Haas has carried the 54-hole lead on to victory twice in three attempts (victories at the 2006 Knoxville Open and 2010 Price Cutter Charity Championship and a runner-up finish at the 2002 Lake Erie Charity Classic). … Haas’ six-stroke winning margin equals the largest of the season (Fabian Gomez/Chitimacha Louisiana Open). … The previous largest margin of victory here was four strokes, posted by Rick Dalpos in 1991, Tom Scherrer in 2007 and Colt Knost in 2008.
Marco Dawson posted the round of the day and equaled the round of the week with a 9-under 63 to tie for 16th. In five starts here, Dawson has never finished worse than tied for 32nd. … Daniel Summerhays (tied for ninth) played the final 47 holes without a bogey. He only had two for the week, coming at Nos. 2 and 7 on Friday. … Jamie Lovemark’s tie for second is his seventh top-5 finish of the season. He continues to hold the top spot on the money list, with $393,288. …
Players with bogey-free rounds on Sunday: Marco Dawson (63), Jason Schultz (66), Camilo Benedetti (66), Ty Harris (67), Roberto Castro (67), Daniel Summerhays (67), Ben Bates (68), Colt Knost (69) and Brandt Jobe (69). … The third-round leader/co-leader has now gone on to win seven of 19 events this season. … The 54-hole leader has now won six of 16 times here: Anthony Painter (1998), Patrick Sheehan (2002), Brad Ott (2004), Tom Scherrer (2007), Colt Knost (2008) and Hunter Haas (2010). … The par-4 14th hole played the toughest this week with a 4.074 average. … The par-5 11th hole was the easiest this week at 4.431, yielding a total of 21 eagles.