LOS ANGELES — Bill Haas knows anything is possible from even the most dire positions. Remember, this is the guy only five months ago saved par with his ball partially submerged in a lake and won the FedEx Cup.
Not even Haas could have imagined such a stunning conclusion Sunday at Riviera.
In thick rough behind the 10th green, the second hole of a three-man playoff with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, Haas smartly played away from the flag with hopes of making par and going on to the next hole.
He wound up holing a 45-foot birdie putt across the green to win the Northern Trust Open.
“A part of me was saying, ‘I’ve done this once, let’s do it again,’” Haas said. “Another part of me was saying, ‘Don’t screw this up.’ ”
Mickelson and Bradley worked their own heroics just to get into the playoff.
Haas, who closed with 2-under-par 69, was on the practice range at 7-under 277 as he warmed up for a playoff only he thought might happen. He was trying to convince himself that Mickelson or Bradley – maybe both – would make birdie on the 18th hole, even though it had yielded only six birdies all day.
Mickelson rammed in a birdie putt from just outside 25 feet.
He bumped fists with Bradley and told his protege, “Join me.”
That he did. Bradley’s birdie putt from just outside 12 feet took one last, slow turn at the cup and disappeared.
On the second playoff hole, Haas went long into thick rough, with enough of the back bunker in his way that he smartly played out to the right and left himself a long birdie putt that at least would assure him par.
“I never expected to make a 40-footer, especially in that situation,” Haas said. “A little luck was involved. I guess it was meant to be.”
Bradley, who closed with 71, missed his birdie putt after Mickelson, who also had 71, failed to hole his bunker shot.