Nerveless Haas wins Bob Hope Classic

Reuters - Mon, 25 Jan 23:27:00 2010

American Bill Haas coolly birdied the par-five last to win his maiden US PGA Tour title by a shot at the weather-delayed Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta, California.

Bill Haas, right, is greeted by his father, Jay Haas, after winning the Bob Hope Classic - 0

American Bill Haas kept his composure to birdie the par-five last and win his maiden US Tour title by a shot at the weather-disrupted Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta, California.

One stroke behind going into the fifth and final round, Haas fired a flawless eight-under-par 64 to break clear of a congested leaderboard in the pro-am celebrity event.

The 27-year-old two-putted for birdie from long range on the 18th green for a 30-under total of 330 to emulate his father Jay Haas, Bob Hope champion in 1988.

Haas junior finished a stroke in front of fellow Americans Bubba Watson (66) and Matt Kuchar (63) as well as South African Tim Clark (65), who missed a birdie putt from eight feet on 18.

PGA Tour rookie Alex Prugh, co-leader overnight with the long-hitting Watson, birdied the last three holes for a 67 and fifth place at 28 under.

Haas, who had never previously finished higher than joint third on the PGA Tour, was delighted to triumph after weathering a bout of nerves over the closing stretch.

"This feels unbelievable," he said in a greenside interview, where he was joined by his father Jay, who flew in from Hawaii earlier in the day, and his great uncle Bob Goalby, the 1968 Masters champion.

"I was so nervous coming down the stretch. I still don't know how I hit the shot on 18 -- my hands were shaking," Haas said of his approach at the last.

"I told my caddie on the last hole: 'I am as nervous as hell.' And he said: 'Well, that's a good thing.'"

A fifth-round birdie slugfest was always on the cards with 14 players bunched within five shots of the overnight lead and Haas and Kuchar made the most significant early moves.

Haas briefly moved two shots in front with four birdies in the first six holes before reaching the turn tied for the lead with Kuchar, who had surged to seven under for the round after 10 holes.

Another birdie followed for Kuchar at the par-five 11th, there he reached the green in two and two-putted, to put him one stroke clear.

Haas, playing two groups behind Kuchar, failed to birdie the 11th but he sank an 18-footer to birdie the par-five 14th and regain a share of the lead.

Clark then made it a three-way logjam at the top when he knocked in a six-foot putt at the par-three 15th for his sixth birdie of the round.

Kuchar again snatched the outright lead, coaxing in a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th before thrusting his right arm skywards in celebration.

Moments later, though, Clark drew level with a matching birdie at 17, a curling 20-footer lifting him to 29 under par.

Haas also birdied 17 after hitting an exquisite tee shot to seven feet to join Clark and Kuchar in a tie for the lead.

Kuchar's birdie attempt from 13 feet at the last slid past the right edge of the cup and Clark's miss there soon after left the way clear for Haas to take advantage.

Winners of the Bob Hope Classic since 1980 (US unless stated):

2010 Bill Haas

2009 Pat Perez

2008 DJ Trahan

2007 Charley Hoffman

2006 Chad Campbell

2005 Justin Leonard

2004 Phil Mickelson

2003 Mike Weir (Canada)

2002 Mickelson

2001 Joe Durant

2000 Jesper Parnevik (Sweden)

1999 David Duval

1998 Fred Couples

1997 John Cook

1996 Mark Brooks

1995 Kenny Perry

1994 Scott Hoch

1993 Tom Kite

1992 Cook

1991 Corey Pavin

1990 Peter Jacobsen

1989 Steve Jones

1988 Jay Haas

1987 Pavin

1986 Donnie Hammond

1985 Lanny Wadkins

1984 John Mahaffey

1983 Keith Fergus

1982 Ed Fiori

1981 Bruce Lietzke

1980 Craig Stadler

Reuters

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