PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA | Jack
Nicklaus said he “loved option holes,” and the
beguiling 10th at Riviera Country Club, only
315 yards long, with a rolling green surrounded
by bunkers, was one of his favorites. Bill Haas
would like to second the motion.
Haas knocked in a 45-foot birdie putt Sunday at the 10th, the second hole of a three-way
sudden-death playoff, to beat Phil Mickelson and
Keegan Bradley and win the Northern Trust Open.
Haas, who closed 2011 by winning a playoff
for The Tour Championship and FedEx Cup,
started the final round two shots back of Mickelson, the clear fan favorite, and Bradley. But he
came in with a 2-under-par 69, to get to 7-under
277, while Mickelson and Bradley had 71s – and
those only because Phil made a 26-foot birdie
putt at the 72nd and Bradley a 13-footer.
After each parred the first extra hole, the
18th, the 29-year-old Haas then won for the
fourth time in his career.
“Everybody’s cheering for Phil,” Haas said
of Mickelson who led from the start. “I under-
stand. But (Mickelson and Bradley) shouldn’t
have even been there if you know what I mean.”
Mickelson, who a week earlier beat Tiger
Woods at Pebble Beach, said he was “very tenta-
tive on the greens” Sunday at Riviera.
failed to get his third victory in this tournament.
“I was trying to knock them in, but they just
weren’t as fast as I was perceiving them to be.”
Mickelson had the lead after the seventh hole
but bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9. Bradley slipped early
with bogeys on Nos. 2, 4 and 5. Haas, meanwhile,
shot 2-under 33 on the front and then knocked
in a 10-footer for a birdie on 10th, at which hours
later he would get his second bird and the victory.
“If you told me 7 under would win, I would
have been surprised,” said Haas. “The course
played tough. There was the cool breeze, and
the greens made it difficult to get balls close.”
Bradley, the winner of last year’s PGA
Championship, said he was happy sinking the
birdie putt at 18 after Mickelson made his.
“Something I’ll never forget,” he said.
Mickelson called Riviera, “very U.S. Open-
esque.” At No. 10 in the playoff, he drove into short
rough, then pitched over the green into a bunker.
“You could see (at) 10, where you’re having to
play defense,” said Mickelson. “Bill wins it, but
he had to play 60 feet away (actually 45) from 30
yards. It was very defensive, because the greens
were so firm and the pins were so tough.”
In the end, Bill Haas was tougher.