After hitting an incredible shot from the water on 18 to stay in the playoff, Bill Haas defeated Hunter Mahan on the third playoff hole to win the season-ending Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
The $10 million prize on the line for the winner of the FedEx Cup was not on his mind as much as just winning the golf tournament when he was tied with Mahan after regulation play. “I knew if I won, that was the only way I could win the FedEx Cup. If I finished second, I knew I couldn’t win the FedEx Cup. So in theory I knew I was playing for it,” said Haas.
The pressure of winning the tour championship was enough stress for him. He did not want to pile onmore pressure and think about the possibility of winning the $10 million for the FedEx Cup. “I’m not going to sit there and say, well, it’s not a million on the line here, there’s $11 million, let’s put some more pressure on it, because it’s not worth it. It’s not worth that stress. I was just trying to win that golf tournament,” Haas said after the win.
But more importantly, he focused on executing good golf shots. I’ve always said that thinking about winning is just a distraction if not a huge pressure. When you have a chance to win, you must execute to the best of your ability. This means playing each hole and hitting good shots. “I was trying to hit good shots in the moment, and even though I did it some of the time, I still was trying to not think about what’s going to happen if this doesn’t come off. I was just trying to hit each shot, and now it just fell that way. It’s awesome.”
Mentally it’s a grind to win a tournament. Lots of decisions to make under pressure… Do you try to keep you lead? Do you try to extend your lead? Your hands shake, mind races, and you try not to think about what comes with winning. Even the top players in theworld are feeling the pressure to win. “The back nine on Sunday, guys like Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, they make it look like it’s just a practice round sometimes, and I know in my head they don’t feel that way. They’re not relaxed, they’re grinding. I get it,” said Haas.
Bill Hass has a great teacher to help him perform when it counts – his dad. But he is still learning how to stay calm when in contention. According to Haas, you have to embracethose moments. “But I know what I’m feeling, and it’s hard work and it’s a grind. Your hands do shake, and it’s not because of the — necessarily the prize — it’s just because of winning the golf tournament and you not wanting to fumble down the stretch. I’m still learning when those moments come to grab them by the throat and embrace it as opposed to let it bother me.”
I enjoyed the analogy he used when describing what players go through when in contention and trying to stay calm. “I’m like a duck on a pond. It’s calm on top, but the legs are going fast under the water.”
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