Reuters - Tue, 26 Jan 07:05:00 2010
American Bill Haas made the most of a swing tip from coach Billy Harmon to win his maiden US PGA Tour title at the Bob Hope Classic, just 10 days after missing the cut in his first start of the year.
Haas burst clear of a tightly bunched leaderboard with a birdie four on the final hole of the weather-delayed event at La Quinta, California to emulate his father Jay Haas as tournament champion.
The 27-year-old had launched his 2010 campaign in stumbling fashion, failing to qualify for the weekend at the preceding Sony Open in Hawaii after rounds of 73 and 75.
However, Haas then learned something useful from celebrated coach Harmon on the practice range while preparing for the Bob Hope Classic in the California desert.
"I was on the range on Monday with my dad, Billy Harmon, my uncle Bob and my brother," Haas said after sealing victory with a flawless eight-under-par 64.
"They were listening to me and tired of hearing me complain about how bad I was hitting it. Billy gave me one little tip, he said: 'Turn your right foot out.' And immediately it was a little different. That's what I went with this week."
Asked if he could have won the Bob Hope without Harmon's tip on the eve of the tournament, Haas replied: "Not a chance.
"I played terrible last week. (I) was breaking the rust off and I had a couple tips I was working on, and they weren't working. If you asked my playing partners last week if I would be here right now, they would have laughed at you."
With conditions ideal for low scoring on a glorious sun-drenched day at La Quinta, Haas birdied three of the last five holes at the Palmer Private course at PGA West to claim the title.
His two-putt birdie from 30 feet on the 18th green left him a stroke in front of South African Tim Clark and fellow Americans Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar as he joined his father in the tournament's record books.
"It's special," Haas said after matching his father's 1988 win. "I will be able to look back forever now and both of our names will be on this trophy."
The Haas duo is the eighth father-son combination to win on the PGA Tour, the most recent being Al and Brent Geiberger after son Brent won the 1999 Canon Greater Hartford Open.
Above all, though, Bill Haas savoured how he managed to weather a severe bout of nerves coming down the last few holes to clinch his first title on the US circuit.
"Just to do well under pressure, to come out and play well and then when it mattered at the end," Haas said with a smile.
"That's like the first time I ever done it.
"I've complained so many times that under pressure, I've not been able to do it. Today I did it, and that's the best feeling."