Another reward Bill Haas may have won on Sunday: the 12th and final spot on the U.S. Presidents Cup team. Captain Fred Couples has probably made up his mind, but the formal announcement is scheduled for Tuesday, September 27 at 5pm ET.
At the start of the week, it seemed like rookie Keegan Bradley, who has two wins, including a major, had the pick locked up — unless Bill Haas or Brandt Snedeker won the Tour Championship, of course.
With the Presidents Cup in mind, Haas shot a final-round 78, including 42 on the back nine, at the BMW Championship a week earlier, which was the last chance to make the team on points. Had he shot 75 or better, he would have finished in the top ten in the points standings and it wouldn’t have been an issue.
Haas almost had a disadvantage with dad Jay as one of Couples’ assistant captains.
“I feel bad for Bill because I don’t think he’s going to get picked unless he does something spectacular (this week), which is unfair,” said Snedeker on Wednesday at East Lake. “I think Bill’s had a great two years and he deserves it as much as anyone else does, but unfortunately, I don’t think he has the leeway that me and Keegan have because Bill’s dad is a captain.”
At the time Snedeker thought Keegan had the strongest case. After all, it’s hard to argue with two wins, including the PGA Championship, not to mention in his rookie year. Keegan deserves some leeway from missing the first two cuts in the four-event FedExCup playoffs. Look, it was unfortunate there were a lot of distractions, including the post-major media tour. Then the next two tournaments just happened to be home games — The Barclays, held in New Jersey near NYC where he played his college golf at St John’s, and the Deutsche Bank Championship, held in Norton, Massachusetts, just 20 minutes from Hopkinton where he went to high school his senior year.
But Keegan actually started well in both the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, but fell backwards on Sunday at Cog Hill and couldn’t follow up his opening round of 64 at East Lake.
Bill’s win is now fresh in our minds and it certainly changed the race for that coveted final spot.
Naturally, Jay was mobbed by reporters (present company included) on the 18th green during the trophy presentation.
“I know (Bill) was really disappointed last week to shoot that 42 on the back nine — he could have taken care of it there,” said Haas. “So I’m doubly proud of him for coming back this week and playing well and from yesterday’s finish, too — bogey, double-bogey finish when he was tied for the lead. I think that says a lot for him. I think it’s hard to overlook that.
“You’d think if Brandt Snedeker or Keegan Bradley or Bill wins the tournament this week, then they should get that spot, perhaps, but again, I’m going to stay out of it.”
Of course, he said all that with a grin.
Jay had also received text messages from NBA legend Michael Jordan, one of the team’s “special” assistants, and Couples. (He read us some texts from Curtis Strange, but slyly put his phone back in his pocket when he mentioned messages from MJ and Fred.)
When I asked Champions Tour player and NBC commentator Peter Jacobson if he thought Bill was a lock, he replied, “Automatic,” without hesitation.
Added Jacobson: “(Bill) hit some bad shots coming down the stretch, but look how good he was up and down. I’ll take a gutty up-and-down performance over loose shots. Any day. Any day. Because getting the ball up and down, you have to choose guts.”
What about Keegan?
“I’ll tell you what, I might trade my 2011 Presidents Cup pick of Tiger Woods to the 2013 team and take Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley and a player to be named later,” said Jacobson.
That would solve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it? Jacobson’s proposal would never come into fruition, but it sucks that Couples has to choose between Bill and Keegan and he shouldn’t have to. I’m certainly glad I don’t have Fred’s dilemma (though it’s a good problem to have), but I think you have to go with Bill after the grit he showed — and it’s fresh in our minds.
“I did what I could do,” said Bill in his post-win presser. “I would love to represent the United States in the Presidents Cup and play for Fred Couples, and I just wanted to play well today because I knew if I didn’t play well I could easily play my way out of that talk, especially with the way everything is going with my dad being assistant captain, and it would be easy to say that he’s getting favored or he didn’t get picked because he didn’t want to look like he was favored.
“It could be spun as Jay Haas’s son got picked as opposed to Bill Haas got picked. But I think winning here helps eliminate that, and that was all I wanted to do, play well, play solid, do what I could do for myself to be looked at as a possible pick.”
There’s still the chance of Steve Stricker not being able to play due to injury.
Best case scenario? Pick Bill, but invite Keegan to get his feet wet (like when Nick Faldo brought Martin Kaymer to the ’08 Ryder Cup).
(AP Photo/Dave Martin and Rainier Ehrhardt)