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Haas Pulls Off Victory at Riviera
Bill Haas closed with a 2-under 69 in the final round of the Northern Trust Open and then birdied the second sudden-death playoff hole to beat Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for the fourth win of his career.
Haas, the winner of the 2011 FedEx Cup and Tour Championship, was in the second-to-the-last group and enjoyed a temporary one-shot edge over Mickelson and Bradley in the last group.
Presciently, the 29-year-old said at greenside before the two teed off on the par-4 18th at Riviera Country Club, "I expect both guys to birdie the 18th."
And they did, with Mickelson a snaking in a tough 27-foot putt from the back right of the green and Bradley with a 13-footer. Both putts drew boisterous cheers from the large throng gathered on the grassy amphitheater around the green.
Those birdies were only the seventh and eighth on the day at Riviera's famous closing hole. Both Bradley and Mickelson finished with even-par 71s to tie Haas for the 72-hole lead at 7-under 277.
After all three players parred the 18th, the first playoff hole, they headed to the diabolical and drive-able 315-yard, par-4 10th. Mickelson's drive with a 3-wood ended up short of the bunker on the right flank of the narrow and small green, while Bradley's tee shot ended up in that same trap. Hitting a driver, Haas went well left and past the green.
Hitting first, Haas placed his second to 45 feet. Mickelson's second landed in front of the pin but rolled through the green and into the bunker at the back-left. Bradley's bunker shot stopped just on the fringe behind the green, 14 feet from the cup. Haas then sank his unlikely birdie try to put the pressure on the other two.
Mickelson's bunker shot came up well short, eliminating him from the playoff. Bradley's birdie attempt just missed on the right side of the cup, giving Haas the victory, the $1.88 million winner's check and 500 FedEx Cup points.
Mickelson and Bradley began the day as the 54-hole co-leaders, but neither could generate momentum until their birdies on the 18th hole. On the day, Mickelson - seeking his second straight win after his victory in last week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - posted four birdies and four bogeys.
Bradley, the reigning PGA champion, had five birdies and an equal number of bogeys en route to his even-par outing.
In nailing down a share of fourth at 5-under 279 with Jimmy Walker (69), Jarrod Lyle (70) and Dustin Johnson (71), Sergio Garcia fired the low round of the day, a 7-under 64.
Starting on the 10th hole Sunday, the 31-year-old Spaniard had a crazy round with five birdies, two bogeys and eagles on the par-5 11th (his second hole) and par-4 15th (his sixth) after his 4-iron approach from 207 yards landed on the green and rolled into the hole. He shot a 6-under 30 on his front nine and 1-under on the back.
"I started really well," said Garcia, who's looking for his first PGA Tour win since the 2008 Tour Championship. "I mean, I hit a great tee shot on 10 (his first hole), and I got quite a bad lie in the bunker, hit a great bunker shot and a good putt, unfortunately it didn't go in. And then you're kind of thinking, Jesus, here we go again. I hit a great second shot on 11, which I got a little lucky, it bounced just in the fringe and landed softly and made eagle there.
"And then I obviously made a great par on 13 and then eagled 15 again. So there I was like, you know, it's a nice round, we're 4 under. Hopefully we can make two or three more chances that we have around and post a really nice round and see what happens. And then we managed to birdie 16 and 18, and we almost eagled one again, and we really got going there with a bomb we made on three. Unfortunately, the bogey on four (his 13th hole) was a momentum-stopper, but then I made a good par on the next and a great birdie on six."
Tied for eighth at 4-under 280 were Bo Van Pelt (70), J.B. Holmes (70) and Jonathan Byrd (73), while another stroke back were Jim Furyk (70) and defending champion Aaron Baddeley, who closed with a 2-over 73.
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