TOUR Championship, FedEx Cup reaction

There’s really only one thing that can be said about the finale to this year’s PGA Tour season – the shot that Bill Haas pulled off on the second playoff hole was worth $10 million.

For those of you who are weekend golfers that were watching football on Sunday, let me clarify the situation for you. In the final round of the TOUR Championship, Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas finished their rounds tied for the lead at 8 under par, and forced a playoff that was worth more than its weight in gold – not only would the winner of the playoff win the TOUR Championship, but the would also win the FedEx Cup, which is the year-round points race boasting a very finely crafted chalice from Tiffany’s, as well as a monetary prize of $10 million.

Now that you’re all caught up, let’s talk about the details. On the first playoff hole, the par 3 18th, Both players missed to the right: Hunter hit a 3-iron into the greenside bunker, and Haas pushed a 4-iron to the grass behind the bunker. Both players remarkably get up and down to save par, which leads us to the second playoff hole, the par 4 17th. Haas hits his tee shot into a fairway bunker on the right side, and Mahan crushes his drive into the left-center of the fairway. Things went from bad to worse for Bill Haas – from the bunker, he hits his second shot a little too far left, allowing the ball to roll off of the drainage area on the green, and into a water hazard. However, all was not lost – 3/4 of the ball was still above water, and the ball was playable, but definitely posed a significant threat to Haas’ tournament life. Hunter hits his second shot to about 20-25 feet of the pin for birdie, applying more pressure to Haas’ third shot.

What transpired after this was stunning. Electing to play the ball as it lies, Haas blasts the ball out of the water hazard, and manages to get it to spin and stop within 3 feet of the cup, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. This also stunned Hunter Mahan, who went on to miss his birdie putt. The final playoff hole saw Bill Haas hit to the left side of the green, with the ball resting on the collar of the intermediate cut of rough, and Mahan hit into the same bunker as the first playoff hole. Hunter overhit his second shot, and missed his par, while Haas two putted to take the TOUR Championship, the FedEx Cup, and the prize money for both.

Now, admittedly, I was rooting for Hunter to take it. It was nothing against Bill Haas, but Hunter is a big-moment golfer, and these are the kinds of situations he loves. Many people would challenge the fact that I call him a big moment player, especially when reflecting on the last Ryder Cup performance, but people also fail to remember that Hunter was also instrumental in the US taking the Ryder Cup two years before, with an electric performance to square the match with Paul Casey, a formidable Ryder Cup performer. The look on Bill Haas’ face hinted at impending doom when he hit his second shot on the second playoff hole, but once he found he still had one chance to survive, he showed fierce determination and delivered what I believe to be the shot of the year by far. I don’t even think Phil or Tiger could make a shot like that with that much on the line.

From there, I just felt that if Bill Haas didn’t win, it would be a great injustice, but thankfully, justice was served, and Bill Haas took down one of the biggest titles of his career. He deserves the championship, and Hunter Mahan has every reason to keep his head held high. He played incredibly great golf, and held his demeanor enough to get into a playoff with Haas, and overcame great odds and many unfavorable situations to extend the playoff. Hunter didn’t lose this championship – Bill Haas had to win it. Overall, this was one of the most exciting finishes to a PGA Tour season that I’ve ever seen, and I look forward to what next year will bring.

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