A priceless golf lesson

Bill Haas' stellar shot from the water teaches us never to give up

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If you were playing a golf hole for $11 million and walked up to the green to find your shot sitting down a steep bank and half submerged in water, it’s a good bet your heart would sink deeper than the ball.

But that was precisely the dilemma facing young Bill Haas Sunday in the PGA Tour Championship – in which the tournament’s $1 million-plus first-place check, plus $10 million in the season-long Fed-Ex Cup, was up for grabs in a playoff between Haas and Hunter Mahan.

With Mahan’s ball resting comfortably up the incline and on the green, Haas had to think that maybe he had just lost a chance at one of golf’s biggest paydays ever.

How would your morale be? Your nerves? Your belief in yourself?

We hope they would be as strong as Bill Haas’ – regardless of whether you were facing an $11 million golf shot or some other kind of challenge in any area of your life.

Haas calmly, and without hesitation, grabbed his wedge, descended the hill, put one foot in the water, warmed up slightly and proceeded to flip the ball out of the water and onto the green, where it spun to a stop within a few feet of the hole. Suddenly, he had new life, the playoff went on and he went on to win.

Chronicle columnist Scott Michaux, one of the finest in the profession in our view, called it the greatest golf shot of all time – particularly for the simple, unpretentious, workmanlike way he went about it – all in under a minute.

Many golfers take longer than that just to check the wind and choose a club.

“Haas knew exactly the kind of shot he needed to hit,” Michaux wrote. “He knew exactly what club to use. He didn’t need to consult his caddie for advice or reinforcement or alignment help. He didn’t consult a rules official for some desperate measure of relief.”

We don’t know if it was the greatest shot ever – there are a lot of shots competing for that title, several of which occurred right here in the Garden City. But considering the circumstances, Haas’ shot has to be right up there near the top in golf lore.

We also agree with Michaux that the video (http://chronicle.augusta.com/greatest-shot) is well worth watching, by sportsmen and laymen alike, because of its universal lessons – among them that you needn’t make a huge deal of something even when it is, and that you should never give up.

Especially on yourself.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/29/11 - 04:45 am
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I dunno. When I think of

I dunno. When I think of great athletic achievements it's not something akin to a half court shot that just happens to go in. I believe Haas felt the same way.

harley_52
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harley_52 09/29/11 - 08:48 am
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I watched the playoff. Haas

I watched the playoff. Haas hit it all over the place...bleachers, bunkers, and the pond. He was lucky Mahan missed some putts. He hit a lucky shot from the pond and won all the cash. Not in the same category as some of the truly great golf shots of the past.

Jake
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Jake 09/29/11 - 03:14 pm
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I have played a lot of golf

I have played a lot of golf over the years and the best shot I have ever seen was one of my own. A couple of years ago I was on the tee with driver in hand a made a mighty swing. The ball thudded about 6 feet in front of me and had so much spin that it drew back and ended up 6 feet behind me for negative yardage. I have never seen anyone do that before.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 09/29/11 - 06:08 pm
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I bet obama has had a few
Unpublished

I bet obama has had a few miraculous shots in golf. We've paid enough greens fees.

KSL
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KSL 09/29/11 - 06:09 pm
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LOL, Jake.

LOL, Jake.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 09/29/11 - 10:05 pm
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Jake, that's pretty good, but

Jake, that's pretty good, but I swear I once hit a ball that went straight out to the side at what had to be a 90 degree angle.

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