La Quinta, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Bill Haas made a couple big birdies and saved some huge pars down the stretch on Sunday to shoot a final-round 67 and win the Humana Challenge by one shot over five others.
Haas finished the week at 22-under-par 266 to win for the sixth time on the PGA Tour. This is Haas' second victory at this event, which he also won back in 2010.
Coming down to the par-5 last hole on the Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West, Haas needed a par to win. A bogey by the 32-year-old would have forced a six-way playoff, which would have tied a tour record. Haas was able to scramble for par and the win.
"I called my wife before the week started and I told her I didn't think I was going to be able to score this week," Haas said. "I just was really struggling hitting it where I wanted to hit it. The putter was unbelievably hot the first few days. Today, still I was fighting it. I mean you see this last hole here I was grinding it out until the end and lucky enough to make a couple putts there."
Second-round leader and highest ranked player in the field Matt Kuchar finished with a 5-under 67 and he ended tied for second along with Charley Hoffman (64), Brendan Steele (64), Sung Joon Park (65) and Steve Wheatcroft (67) at 21-under 267.
Rookie Justin Thomas, who shared the third-round lead with Haas, Erik Compton and first-round leader Michael Putnam, finished with a 3-under 69 and tied for seventh with Webb Simpson (64) and Boo Weekley (65) at minus-20.
Compton could not make enough birdies down the stretch and he carded a 2-under 70 to finish tied for 10th at 19-under 269. Putnam (72) ended two shots behind Compton at 17-under 271, tying him for 15th.
Defending champion Patrick Reed needed a big day on Sunday to successfully defend his title, but he fired a 1-under 71 to finish tied for 24th at 15- under 273 with Phil Mickelson (68) and four others.
Haas got off to a rough start, but he righted the ship when it mattered. After Compton took the lead with a birdie on one, Haas tripped to his only bogey of the day on the par-3 third hole, putting him two shots back. He got that shot right back with a birdie on No. 4, pulling him to within one of the lead, which at the time was held by Kuchar, Compton, Wheatcroft, Thomas, Putnam and Ryan Palmer.
After Thomas just missed an eagle on the par-5 fifth and tapped in for birdie to take the outright lead, Haas came right back with an eagle on the same hole to jump back into a share of the lead at minus-19. Wheatcroft and Kuchar both birdied No. 8, making it a four-way tie atop the leaderboard once again.
Steele began mounting his charge following four birdies on the front nine. After another gain on No. 11, Steele grabbed a share of the lead when he made a birdie from the fringe on 12.
Haas took the outright lead for the first time on the day with his second birdie on eight, putting him at 20-under. Behind him the amount of players at minus-19 grew. Scott Pinckney used an eagle on six along with birdies on eight and nine to get within one. Weekley ran off three straight birdies from 10 to join five others at 19-under as well. Colt Knost made a gain at the last and Park drained his third straight birdie to also join the group.
A Thomas bogey on 10 dropped him two shots back, but it was not the last time he would throw his name into the mix.
A Pinckney birdie on 11 pulled him even with Haas, while Simpson came out of nowhere with his seventh birdie of the day on 16 to join the others at 19- under. Pinckney quickly fell back a shot with a bogey on 12, while Kuchar traded places with him after a 7-foot birdie putt tied Kuchar with Haas. Thomas continued to lurk as he made another gain on 11.
Haas did not give in to the pressure that was coming behind him, however, as he took the outright lead once again with a birdie on the par-5 11th.
While Simpson and Steele both made gains on 17, Park poured in his fourth birdie in a row on 14, moving them all even with Kuchar and one behind Haas, Hoffman came surging up the leaderboard and into a tie for second with a gain on 17. At the time, Hoffman made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch from 11. Simpson wound up running out of holes as he parred the last to finish at minus-20.
Hoffman made it four straight gains and six birdies over his final eight holes to come from behind and tie the lead with a birdie on 18. As it stood, Hoffman was finished and tied for the lead with Haas at 21-under, while Simpson, Steele, Park and Kuchar sat at 20-under.
Right before Thomas got back in the mix again after a birdie on 14, putting him at minus-20, Steele finished up with a gain of his own at the last to pull even with Hoffman and Haas.
Thomas made it two straight when he knocked his first shot on the par-3 15th to within a couple feet before kicking that in for birdie and making it a four-way tie for the lead. Following three straight pars from 15, Park ended strong as well by making birdie at the last and joining the four others in the lead.
Then came the biggest shot of the week for Haas. After knocking his second at the par-4 16th to within 20 feet, Haas stepped up and drained a huge birdie putt to take the outright lead once again. Thomas found water on the same hole and settled for double-bogey. He never fully recovered.
"Sixteen was huge," said Haas. "I knew I needed that one to at least give me a chance here on 18. This is unbelievable. This is great."
While Wheatcroft finished with a birdie to join Hoffman, Steele, Park and Kuchar at 21-under, Kuchar proved to be the last threat to Haas. Kuchar, who had crushed the par-5s all week, needed a birdie to tie Haas for the lead, but Kuchar could only make par to finish one shot behind.
With his fate in his own hands, Haas stayed strong and made a par on 17, meaning he needed just a par at the last to win. Despite a tough lie just off the lip of a fairway bunker on 18, which put the ball about even with his belt and requiring a baseball-like swing to hit it, Haas' second shot found the fairway.
"For it to end up there was pretty bad luck," Haas said about where his drive on 18 came to rest. "I could've easily whiffed that second shot. I was able to get it down the fairway to give myself a chance. A terrible break, but maybe deservedly so with a bad shot."
From there Haas knocked his ball on the green and two-putted for his sixth career victory.
NOTES: The only six-way playoffs to happen on the PGA Tour came at the 1994 Byron Nelson Classic and the 2001 Nissan Open ... Haas won this tournament in 2010 when it was still called the Bob Hope Classic ... Haas also finished tied for second with Gary Woodland here in 2011 when Jhonattan Vegas defeated them in a playoff ... Haas' father Jay Haas won here in 1988 and finished runner-up to Mike Weir in 2003 ... Bill Haas earned $1,026,000 with this victory ... Next up for the PGA Tour is the Waste Management Phoenix Open next week, where Tiger Woods is set to make his season debut. Last year, Kevin Stadler outlasted Bubba Watson and Graham DeLaet to win by one in Arizona.