Just when you think it couldn't get any better with the amazing comebacks over recent weeks, the Northern Trust Open offered up an amazing three man playoff between some of the game's biggest stars.
The final pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley came into the final hole on Sunday one shot back of Bill Haas, who made a clutch putt for par ahead of them to finish with a 69. Both Bradley and Mickelson were having sub-par days, and had great opportunities to make birdie on the par 5 17th hole but made par, with Mickelson's putt coming up one inch short from going in.
Keegan and Phil both hit good drives and decent approach shots into the 18th green, with Mickelson about 30 feet out and Bradley about half that. I thought Keegan would probably make his putt but Phil didn't have much of a chance. He had to go through some fringe and play about two feet of break, with the odds of making that with the tournament on the line slim and none, right?
Phil then hit one of the most clutch putts of the PGA Tour season to this point, draining the putt with the crowd going wild. About a minute after that Bradley followed up with an amazing putt of his own, with the ball just barely making it in to force a three way playoff.
All three players went on to par the first hole, with the second playoff hole being a short par 4 of about 310 yards. Phil stepped up to the tee and short-sided himself about 25 yards short of the green, and then Bradley did the same thing, although he hit it in the greenside bunker ahead of Mickelson. I couldn't believe what Bill Haas did next; after watching both of his competitors hit poor tee shots, he decided to go with a driver and hooked it in the deep rough far left of the green. Why he didn't just hit an iron in the fairway is beyond me, but obviously he must have had some strategy brewing from the tee box.
Mickelson hit a great flop shot (his only real play) but didn't have much green to work with and it eventually rolled into the bunker over the green. Bradley hit a great bunker shot that also had too much roll to it, but left himself about 12 feet or so from the fringe for a birdie putt. Haas on the other hand played it safe to about 40 feet or so away from the flag to the center of the green.
With about five feet of break in the putt, Haas hit it on a perfect line and drained the putt, shocking everyone there and most likely everyone watching it on television as well. I thought for sure everyone was going to make par and move onto the next hole, but Bill Haas showed that he still has it from his FedEx Cup win the previous year, beating out Mickelson and Bradley as they failed to respond.
You really couldn't get much better of a finish at the Northern Trust Open, and it really showed that golf can be an exciting sport to watch.
Ryan Kekoufski is a scratch golfer who has both played and watched the sport for over a decade. He covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and currently resides in Virginia.
- Bill Haas
- Northern Trust Open