With his ball half-submerged on the bank of a lake, Haas blasted out of the water to about 3 feet to save par on the second playoff hole against Hunter Mahan, then got up-and-down for par on the 18th green to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
Haas won a combined $11.44 million – including $10 million for capturing the FedEx Cup.
“It was all or nothing,” Haas said of his shot from the water left of the 17th green.
That’s what this playoff felt like.
Mahan had to settle for $864,000 for his runner-up finish, and $700,000 for finishing seventh in the FedEx Cup. The difference between winning and losing was $9.876 million.
Haas won for the first time this year, and the payoff could be more than just a massive bank deposit. Fred Couples makes his final captain’s pick on Tuesday for the Presidents Cup, and Haas put on quite a show.
Even if Couples wasn’t watching, his assistant captain had a great view: Jay Haas, Bill’s dad, was in the gallery at East Lake, and raised his arms as his 29-year-old son delivered the most riveting conclusion in the five-year history of the FedEx Cup.
“I’m proud of him the way he came back,” Jay Haas said.
Only a week ago, Haas was poised to make the Presidents Cup on his own until a 42 on the back nine at Cog Hill. He was atop the leaderboard Saturday at East Lake until a bogey-double bogey finish.
And he almost let it get away from him again. Haas had a three-shot lead when he walked off the 15th green, only to make bogey from the trees on the 16th and bogey from the gallery on the 18th for 2-under 68.
Mahan had to make par on the 232-yard closing hole. He hit a clutch chip – the biggest weakness in his game – and holed a 5-foot par putt for a 71 to join Haas in the high-stakes playoff.
They returned to the par-3 18th and the pressure was obvious with so much money at stake. Haas hit his shot well right, into the gallery for the third consecutive time, then hit a tough chip to 10 feet. Mahan went in the bunker and blasted out to 6 feet. Haas appeared to be down to his last shot, but holed the par putt to stay alive.
From the right bunker, his approach to the 17th on the second playoff hole tumbled down the hill and barely into the lake, the top half of the ball still showing.
Water splashed upward, and the ball settled 3 feet away. Mahan’s birdie putt just missed on the high side of the cup.
Back to the 18th for the third time, Haas went left of the green. Mahan again found the bunker, only this time he blasted out some 15 feet by the hole and missed. Haas chipped to 3 feet and holed it for the biggest putt of his young career.
“I’m very fortunate,” Haas said. “This is pretty unbelievable.”
Haas was at No. 25 in the FedEx Cup, making him the lowest seed to capture golf’s biggest prize.