A priceless golf lesson

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

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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