Sunday

The More Things Change: Bill Haas Wins the Humana Challenge

Bill Haas at the Travelers Championship in 2008
Exactly five years ago I posted this story about Bill Haas and his first PGA Tour win. Back then it was known as the Bob Hope Classic, and the 27 year-old had won the event by one shot over Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark and Bubba Watson. 

These days it's the Humana Challenge and once again, Bill Hass has emerged victorious in the California desert.  This time, however, he was trailed by a group of not three, but five players, one of whom...  deja vu all over again... was Matt Kuchar.  

Bill Haas is 32 now and this marks his 6th PGA Tour win and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see him wearing a green jacket in the near future.


January 25, 2010 - Here in Connecticut an icy rain fell from sunrise till dusk today, and the skies never cleared. But my Monday was made much brighter by a Bill Haas victory at the Bob Hope Classic. You see, I've been a major Bill Haas fan since June 17, 2008.

Before you think I'm weird, the reason I remember the exact date is because that's the day I actually met the gracious golfer on the practice green at TPC River Highlands.

It was the week leading up to the Travelers Championship and the players were coming in from Torrey Pines, after one of the most memorable US Opens ever. Buzz was just beginning to circulate about the possibility that Tiger might have to take some time off... perhaps even the remainder of the season... to mend his knee; the prospect of several Tiger-less months seemed to cast an aura of uncertainly on the green that day. - In light of what's happened since, that seems almost extremely ironic, doesn't it?

Being a weekday... and quite early in the morning... the sparse crowd around the green consisted mainly of prosperous looking senior citizens, clamoring for autographs. They were uniformly equipped with fresh black Sharpies and shiny new golf balls. Once signed, I'm guessing they lovingly placed the balls in windowed display cases.

Bill Haas -  always fan-friendly
But, as I say, there was a strange vibe that day. The players spoke among themselves, commiserated with their caddies and went about their practice routines. Most of them seemed in no mood to humor the early morning autograph seekers. But there was one young guy who didn't hesitate to approach the fans standing around the green.

It was Bill Haas who... I'll admit... I was unfamiliar with at the time. As he politely proceeded to autograph balls, exchanging pleasantries with the seniors, I complimented him on his pleated trousers which were old-fashioned and oddly elegant. He smiled and said he was surprised I had noticed, he said he preferred pants with pleats though they weren't always easy to find. I asked if I could take a photo and, once again, he gave me that great smile.

So, that's the story of how I became a Bill Haas fan on June 17, 2008. And why it was pretty special to see him win in an exciting final round at the Bob Hope Classic today.