INSIDE THE ROPES
By TOM LaMARRE
The Sports Xchange
Despite missing the cut in the Barclays, Bill Haas knows perhaps better than anyone else that he’s not out of the FedEx Cup race because of the wild point swings possible during the PGA Tour playoffs.
Last year, Haas came from further back than any player in the first five years of the playoffs to capture the FedEx Cup when he won the Tour Championship on the third hole of a playoff with Hunter Mahan.
Haas was 15th in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of the 2011 regular season. Previous winners Tiger Woods (2007, 2009), Vijay Singh (2008) and Jim Furyk (2010) all started the playoffs in the top 10.
Until winning at East Lake, Haas did not have a top-10 finish in the playoffs and tied for 61st in the Deutsche Bank Championship, which will be contested this week at TPC Boston.
Last week, Nick Watney rose from 49th in the standings to take the lead by winning the Barclays.
“I think everybody understands that the way I did it was basically by winning that last tournament,” said Haas, who obviously has more work to do this time after slipping eight spots to 29th in the standings.
“It’s a yearlong race, but the way they do the points at the Tour Championship, that’s the way to win it. So my goal is to get back there. If you can get to the Tour Championship, anybody can win the whole FedEx Cup.
“And that’s my goal, to try to win it again.”
To do that, Haas will have to become the first FedEx Cup winner to make it back to the Tour Championship. The other five failed the following year to finish in the top 30 that qualify for the tournament at East Lake, because of injuries or subpar golf.
After playing well early in the season, including a playoff victory over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the Northern Trust Open, Haas went through a dry spell before some solid results lately.
He recorded top-20 finishes in the PGA Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational before tying for seventh in the Wyndham Championship.
“My game feels OK,” said the 30-year-old Haas, who has won four times in his career on the PGA Tour. “It feels like I’m doing a lot right. The putter needs to be a little more consistent, though. But I am just trying to stay confident in every aspect of the game. You never know what can happen. I proved that last year. So you have to keep plugging.
” … But right now, I’m on the bubble, and if I don’t play well the next few weeks, I will get bumped out of the Tour Championship. But I’m also in position that if I play well, I can have a chance to (win) it again.”
On his way to taking home both trophies last year at East Lake, Haas authored the “Shot of the Year” on the PGA Tour when it appeared his was about to lose to Mahan on the second playoff hole.
With Mahan looking at a 25-foot birdie putt, Haas found his ball half-submerged in greenside lake after flying the green. But he waded into the water with one foot and blasted out to within two feet to save par.
After Mahan two-putted for par to extend the match, he hit into a greenside bunker on the third playoff hole and was unable to sink his 20-foot putt for par. Haas also had missed the green, but he chipped to within four feet and saved his winning par.
“It was all or nothing,” Haas said of his escape from the lake. “I had to hit a decent shot. Definitely some luck was involved. … I really want to get to East Lake this year and have a chance to win the FedEx Cup again.
“I realize how lucky I was in a sense for everything to work out last year. Sure, I did what I had to do and won the Tour Championship. But I could go and do what Luke Donald did last year. He never finished lower than 18th in the playoffs and was fourth or better in the other three events, and lose.
“I understand that I can play my best golf here in this stretch and still not win the FedEx Cup again.”
Not only did Haas claim the $10 million FedEx Cup winner’s check, he earned $1.44 million for winning the tournament and landed a spot on the United States team for the Presidents Cup.
Any extra incentive this time comes from his desire to play well enough for Davis Love III to make him one of four Captain’s Picks for the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup next month at Medinah.
As far as all that cash, Haas socked most of it away, with one exception.
“I bought a ’68 Mustang GT 500,” he said. “That was my gift to myself.”
He wouldn’t mind finding an excuse to give himself another present.
PGA TOUR: Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., Friday through Monday.
TV: Friday and Saturday, 3-6 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel; Sunday, 1-3 on the Golf Channel and 3-6 p.m. EDT on NBC, and Monday, 11:30-1:30 p.m. EDT on the Golf Channel and 2-6 p.m. EDT on NBC.
LAST YEAR: Webb Simpson, who closed with a 6-under-par 65, finished with three consecutive birdies, the last from eight feet on the second playoff hole, to turn back Chez Reavie. It was the second victory in three weeks for Simpson, who had claimed his first PGA Tour victory in the Wyndham Championship. This time, Simpson holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation and stayed alive by sinking another birdie putt from 15 feet on the first extra hole after Reavie chipped to tap-in range for his birdie. Reavie closed with a 66 and seemed headed for his second PGA Tour victory until he played it safe and laid up on the par-5 18th hole, overshot the green with his approach and eventually missed an 11-foot putt for par.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Pacific Links Hawaii Championship at Kapolei Golf Course in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii, Sept. 14-16.
TV: Friday, Friday through Sunday, 7:30-10 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Inaugural event.
LPGA TOUR: Kingsmill Championship at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Sept. 6-9.
TV: Thursday and Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. EDT; Saturday, noon-3:30 p.m. EDT, and Sunday, 2-5 p.m. EDT, on the Golf Channel each day.
LAST YEAR: Inaugural event.
–With the Champions Tour making a stop last week at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie, Wash., for the Boeing Classic, Bobby Clampett and Steve Jones paid a visit to the Seattle Seahawks’ practice facility.
Not only did Jones and Clampett throw the ball around with some of the Seahawks, an 80-yard hole was set up for a friendly closest-to-the-pin competition.
Clampett and Jones had one shot apiece, and quarterback Matt Flynn, wide receiver Golden Tate and kicker Steve Hauschka each got three cracks at the green with a wedge.
Flynn, who plays to an 8-handicap, was the winner with a shot that stopped 1 foot, 7 inches from the flag.
“I had no pressure and I got three shots,” said Flynn, who blocked out the running commentary by Clampett, who doubles as a TV golf commentator. “The first two were terrible. Then I straightened it out. I don’t want to do it again.
“I’ve learned to drown out the chatter from the peanut gallery. So I was focused in on the hole.”
Said Clampett: “You know he’s been playing a lot of golf this offseason.”
Clampett finished second at 6 feet, 2 inches, followed by Tate at 8 feet, 8 inches, Hauschka at 21 feet and Jones at 21 feet, 8 inches.
–Paul Lawrie of Scotland clinched a spot on the European team for the Ryder Cup without hitting a shot.
The Euros employ two lists to determine the automatic qualifiers for the team, the World list and the European list, and when Sergio Garcia captured the rain-delayed Wyndham Classic two weeks ago, the math secured Lawrie’s spot on the Euro list.
“It’s nice and absolutely done,” said the 43-year-old Lawrie, who last played in the Ryder Cup in 1999 at Brookline. “So chuffed to be in the team. It’s been a long time. It’s been 13 years since I played last time, so can’t wait.
“There have been older players that have played in the Ryder Cup and I’m 43, but it’s unique not to have played in it so long and to come back at that age and qualify.”
Garcia locked up a spot by winning the Wyndham, jumping to sixth on the World points list but No. 3 among those not among the top five on the European list. The top five on each list qualify.
Lawrie, who won the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie, celebrated by winning the Johnnie Walker Classic last week at Gleneagles in Scotland. Earlier in the year, he captured the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
–Chris Williams, a senior at the University of Washington, was selected to receive the sixth Mark H. McCormack Medal by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
The medal, named for the late founder of IMG, is awarded to the top-ranked amateur golfer at the conclusion of the amateur season and following the U.S. and European amateur championships.
Along with the medal, Williams received exemptions into the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion and the Open Championship at Muirfield.
“I don’t think about the rankings or look at them very often,” said Williams, a native of Moscow, Idaho. “This was a surprise and a shock to me when I learned that I had won.”
Williams, who has been the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world for much of the summer, held on to the top spot by finishing seventh in stroke play at the United States Amateur Championship two weeks ago and advancing to the quarterfinals in match play before losing.
In addition to posting a 3-1 record in the Palmer Cup matches, Williams won the NCAA Southwest Regional, captured the stroke-play and match-play portions of the Western Amateur Championship and claimed the Washington Amateur Championship.
Williams’ former teammate at Washington, Nick Taylor, claimed the McCormack Medal in 2009.
–Scott Gump, who played 18 years on the PGA Tour and what is now known as the Web.com Tour, has been joined the men’s golf coaching staff at the University of Notre Dame as an assistant.
The 46-year-old Gump replaces Steve Colnitis, who resigned after seven seasons with the Irish on the staff of Jim Kubinski, who is beginning his eighth season as head coach at Notre Dame.
“What an exciting time it has been for me to be able to join the Notre Dame family,” Gump said. “I was fortunate to play professional golf for over 20 years, and when my playing side was winding down, I started looking forward to a new chapter in my life.
“To be chosen as the assistant golf coach at Notre Dame, with its traditions, facilities and support systems, is just fantastic.”
Gump, who played college golf at Miami (Fla.), earned his PGA Tour card in 1991 and made 329 starts on the PGA Tour, never winning but finishing second three times. He won three titles on the Web.com Tour.
Previously, Gump served as a coach and instructor at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy from 2009 to 2012.
–Spencer Levin withdrew before the start of the Barclays, opener of the PGA Tour playoffs, last week because of the sudden death of his 28-year-old stepbrother, Blake Wiklund, in Sacramento, Calif.
“The Levin family is touched by and appreciative of the ongoing support they have received,” said Kevin Canning, Levin’s agent at Legacy Agency, in a statement released by the PGA Tour.
“Spencer will be returning to the PGA Tour as soon as time and family will allow.”
Levin was 45th in the FedEx Cup standings heading into the playoffs.
–The Champions Tour announced an addition to its schedule for next season with the creation the Encompass Championship at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill.
The tournament is scheduled for June 21-23, 2013.
“I’m really juiced about it,” said Jeff Sluman, a native of Chicago who still lives in the area. “We can’t wait to get back here.
“With the BMW (Championship, on the PGA Tour) moving around so much, there’s not a lot of golf around here. We’re filling a little bit of a void, and we look forward to having a great event.”
The 54-hole event for 81 Champions Tour players will include a pro-am.
North Shore opened in 1924 and was host to the 1933 U.S. Open.
–Rory McIlory will not play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which pits the four major winners, at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda in October because of a scheduling conflict, the Bermuda Royal Gazette reported.
Before winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, McIlory had committed to the Volvo Masters in Shanghai, which begins on Oct. 25, the day after the Grand Slam ends.
As defending PGA Grand Slam champion, Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, is the first alternate and was expected to inform organizers early this week if he will play in the tournament again.
Last October, Bradley defeated McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke.
Graeme McDowell is next in line because he had the best record in the majors of a non-winner this season. He tied for 12th in the Masters, tied for second in the U.S. Open, tied for fifth in the Open Championship and tied for 11th in the PGA Championship.
PGA officials confirmed that Bubba Watson (Masters), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open) and Ernie Els (Open Championship) are expected to play in the Grand Slam of Golf.
Watson and Simpson will be playing in the event for the first time while Els will be playing for the fourth time, having won in 2010 in Bermuda and 1997 in Hawaii.
Tiger Woods has won the event, which was first played in 1979, seven times, and Greg Norman won three times.
–Lucas Glover is scheduled for surgery on his right knee on Sept. 5 and could miss the rest of the PGA Tour season.
Glover injured the knee while paddle boarding in Hawaii the week of the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He withdrew from the tournament and missed the next two months because of what was diagnosed as a strain.
However, he was forced to withdraw midway through the third round of the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago because of pain in his knee. A doctor’s examination revealed torn meniscus cartilage.
“Surgery was never on the table before,” said Glover, who has won three times on the PGA Tour, including the 2009 U.S. Open. “Swing-wise it never came up and none of the doctors felt like it was needed. The Wyndham was the first time I didn’t feel like my footwork was good and I don’t think the knee could take it.
“I don’t have any problem walking, it’s when my right knee goes down and to the left, which is the first motion in my downswing. It feels like my kneecap is going to explode … I’m looking at it as an opportunity to make sure it’s 100 percent.”
In 16 starts this season, Glover made the cut only six times. His best finish was a tie for 46th at the Memorial tournament.
Glover, who missed the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career, could be back for the season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic at Walt Disney World, which he won in 2005.
However, it’s more likely he will wait until 2013 to return.
IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Hawaii Prince Golf Club, Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii.
THE LAYOUT: The Hawaii Prince Hotel in Honolulu is the only hotel on Waikiki Beach that owns and operates a golf course for its guests, but the Hawaii Prince Golf Club also is a public course enjoyed by the locals and other visitors to the island.
The club is located about a 40-minute drive from Honolulu on the Ewa Plain, where Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay created three delightful nines that opened in 1992. Golfers will find three distinct golfing experiences.
There are the A Course, which is dotted by monkey pod trees and measures 3,514 yards from the back tees; the B Course, which winds through ironwood trees and plays to 3,609 yards, and the C Course, perhaps the most popular and lined by palm trees, covering 3,652 yards.
The property, which was host to the Hawaii State Open in 2000 and 2004, covers 270 acres and 10 large lakes come into play — several on multiple holes. The fairways and Bermuda greens are dotted by 90 white sand bunkers, with dramatic views of the Waianae Mountains.
The Hawaii Prince is the first stop in the Prince Resorts’ “Ninety-Nine Holes of Golf” tour. Also included are two exceptional golf courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. at the Makena Golf Club adjacent to the Maui Prince Resort on Maui, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii, with its groundbreaking course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and the Hapuna Prince Hotel, with its award-winning course designed by Palmer and Seay.
DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Tim Herek.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Mark Rolfing, NBC golf commentator and a resident of Hawaii, calls the last two holes of the B Course and the first two holes of the C Course “Hawaii’s Longest Mile of Golf.”
They are four of the best, longest and most challenging par 4s in succession any golfer would ever want to play.
B8 plays 433 yards to a green that has 21 palm trees as a backdrop and is rated No. 2 on that nine, and is followed by the No. 1 handicap hole, 440 yards to a green protected on the right by water and a devastating crosswind that the golfer does not feel because of a grove of trees.
The opening hole of the C Course is rated only as No. 7 on the card, even though it covers 484 yards from the back tees, and the next hole measures 459 yards and is rated the most difficult on that nine. From the back tees, that’s 1,716 of real estate without a par 5.
The signature hole on the A Course is the 418-yard seventh, a demanding par 4 on which the tee shot must carry a gigantic lake that runs the length of the fairway on the right side. But that’s not the only trouble on this hole. You cannot run the ball up onto the green in typical links style because of a large bunker 20 yards short of the putting surface.
Perhaps the best par 3 on the property is No. 7 on the C Course, 210 yards from the back tees, with two lakes to deal with on the right. It is the first leg of a dramatic finish that includes the scenic, 458-yard peninsula par-4 eighth hole and a 532-yard par-5 windup.
After golf, enjoy a meal in the Bird of Paradise Restaurant, and if you are staying in Honolulu, stop off to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on the way back to the city.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Among the many courses on Oahu are two spectacular resort courses at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore; Kapolei Golf Course and Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei; the West and East Courses at Makaha Golf Club in Waianae; Mid-Pacific Country Club in Wailea; Mililani Golf Club, Pearl Country Club in Aiea; Waikele Golf Course; Luana Hills Country Club in Wailea and Koolau Golf Course in Kaneohe. Koolau is considered by many to be the most difficult course in the United States, with a slope rating of 152 from the back tees.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hawaii Prince Hotel, at the gateway to Waikiki when driving from the Honolulu Airport, affords scenic views of the Pacific in addition to Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, Ala Moana Park and the Koolau Mountains. The hotel offers a full-service day spa and a beauty salon in addition to a fitness center. Guests can take the hotel shuttle to any of the shops and restaurants along Waikiki or never have to leave the hotel — which has its own high-end shops and two gourmet dining rooms, the Prince Court and the Hakone Restaurant.
You can find a slice of Old Hawaii less than an hour’s drive from the frenetic activity at Waikiki at the Turtle Bay Resort. It’s a short trip from fabled surfing spots at Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and the Bonzai Pipeline.
Other hotels on Waikiki include the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort and Spa, the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort and Spa, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Sheraton Waikiki Resort and the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach.
Away from Honolulu is Marriott’s Ihilani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina.
ON THE WEB: www.princeresortshawaii.com.
THE LAST RESORT: Kapalua Resort in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii.
THE LAYOUT: It was Arnold Palmer who put Kapalua on the golf map, not Tiger Woods and Ernie Els with their epic mano y mano playoff duel in the 2000 Mercedes Championship.
The tournament, now known as the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, will be played in Hawaii for the 15th time in January. Steve Stricker captured his 12th PGA Tour title in the tournament this year.
Palmer, with help from Ed Seay, designed the first two championship courses in this corner of West Maui — the Bay Course, which opened in 1975, and the Village Course, which followed in 1980 but is now closed because of the economic slowdown.
The famed Plantation Course, designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, opened in 1989 and would bring thousands more tourists to the island once they saw this sweeping giant during the Lincoln Mercury Kapalua Invitational — an unofficial PGA Tour event that was played in November and showed Maui could support a major event.
The Plantation Course, with a par of 73, measures 7,263 yards and plays to a USGA rating of 75.2 with a slope of 142, but despite the omnipresent trade winds it is very playable from the resort tees because of its expansive fairways.
The Bay Course, which has a par of 72, plays to 6,600 yards with a rating of 71.7 and a slope of 138.
DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Mike Jones.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Everyone wants to play the Plantation Course, especially the daunting 663-yard 18th hole, which can be reached with two long, precise shots because it plays dramatically downhill toward the ocean with the prevailing wind helping.
Els and Woods were tied for the lead going to the final hole in the 2000 Mercedes. Both made eagle to force a playoff, starting on the 18th, where both made birdie before continuing to No. 1. There, Woods sank a dramatic 35-foot downhill birdie putt to win the tournament.
Another memorable hole is the 203-yard eighth, which plays across a canyon of natural vegetation to a green that slopes from back to front, with a series of traps in the back to catch shots by those who use an extra club or two to ensure they carry the precipice. Hit your tee shot short and you need a new ball.
The Bay Course plays mostly on a plateau above the Pacific Ocean, but features two spectacular holes right on the water. The 357-yard fourth hole is a short but deceptive par-4 with a large bunker waiting for shots trying to cut the corner, pushed that way by the prevailing wind off the ocean. It’s followed by the 205-yard fifth, which sits on a lava promontory and is perhaps the most scenic hole at Kapalua. It requires a tee shot across a corner of Oneola Bay, usually with a tailwind.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Five minutes down the Honoapi’ilani Highway is the Kaanapali Resort, where Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf brought this slice of paradise into homes across the United States in 1963. The televised match featured Bob Charles of New Zealand, the reining British Open champion, and American Dave Regan. The Royal Kaanapali Course hosts the Wendy’s Champions Skins Game on the Champions Tour season in January, and the Kaanapali Kai Course offers some of the best views of the Molokai Channel.
In South Maui on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala, the House of the Sun, are three magnificent resort courses at the Wailea Resort, and two more — the North and South — at secluded Makena Golf Resort.
In between are several outstanding public layouts, including Sandalwood Golf Course in Waikapu, Silversword Golf Course in Kihei, Grand Waikapu Country Club in Wailuku, the Dunes at Mauna Lani, a links-style course in Kahului, and Pukalani Golf Course, a delightful and relaxing Up Country experience with spectacular 360-degree views of the South Pacific.
WHERE TO STAY: The exclusive Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, where most of the pros stay with their wives during the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions, is the jewel of Kapalua, but you can get almost as much for less at its charming neighbor, the Kapalua Bay Hotel.
Other fine accommodations can be found at the Kapalua Ridge Villas, the Napili Bay Resort, Embassy Suites Resort, the Kapalua Golf Villas, the Sands of Kahana, the Aston Papakea and the Aston Paki Maui.
In Kaanapali are the venerable Royal Lahaina Resort, the Sheraton Maui, the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Kaanapali Beach Hotel and the Marriott Maui — not to mention countless condominiums.
In South Maui, you can choose from the Maui Prince Hotel, Grand Wailea Resort, the Four Seasons Resort, the Outrigger Wailea Resort, the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui and Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort.
ON THE WEB: www.kapaluamaui.com.