Commentary

For Bill Haas, a matter of trust

Updated: September 26, 2011, 1:18 PM ET
By Farrell Evans | ESPN.com

ATLANTA -- "Trust it, Bill. Trust it," he whispered as he stood near the 18th green at the East Lake Golf Club on Sunday afternoon.

"Stay steady. Stay steady."

Bill Haas has a 4-footer to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs, and his father, Jay Haas, is urging his 29-year-old son to just trust it.

On Saturday night, the second son had gone to dinner at a pizza parlor in the city with his wife, Julie, his parents and his brother, Jay Jr., who has been his caddie for the last eight weeks on tour. Now they were all here at this historic urban setting for golf made famous by Bobby Jones.

[+] EnlargeJay and Bill Haas
AP Photo/Matt YorkBill Haas' father, Jay, earned $14,440,317 during his PGA Tour career. The younger Haas brought home $11.44 million on Sunday alone after winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup playoffs, although only $1.44 million counts as official money.

"This is the moment you work for," the elder Haas told Julie as the family stood nervously around the green.

It was Fran's 24th birthday, the fourth of Jay and Jan Haas' five children. Jan had gotten a cake and they were going to celebrate Sunday night back home in Greenville, S.C., a couple of hours up I-85.

Jay Sr. had been the attentive father all week, calmingly nurturing his son as he tried to make a favorable impression on Fred Couples for the last captain's pick for the Presidents Cup. After he had squandered a three-shot lead with three holes to play on Sunday afternoon with bogeys at 16 and 18 to fall into a playoff with Hunter Mahan, his father told him to "stay patient and expect anything to happen. Hunter could make a 50-footer."

If he wasn't nervous, he wouldn't be right in the head. He was playing for almost as much money as his father had made in more than 30 years as a professional golfer on two tours.

Trust it, Bill. Trust it.

The second son, the one with the most promise, the one who had followed his father to Wake Forest and then to the PGA Tour, the one who had won twice on the PGA Tour but was struggling to distinguish himself in a crowd of talented American twenty-somethings, was now standing in the gloaming with a belly putter in his hand, a putter that he had only started using this year.

This moment had not come easily to him. Last week in the final round at the BMW Championship, he shot a 42 on his final nine holes of the tournament to shoot a 7-over 78 to finish in a tie for 16th. At the Deutsche Bank Championship, he had a tie for 61 and at the weather-shortened Barclays, he finished 24th.

Bill Haas had been on the losing end of two playoffs this year, the Humana Challenge and the Greenbrier Classic. He was a good player, but not a world beater. He was Jay's boy, the second son. The one who's given name is William Harlan. The one with a great-uncle named Bob Goalby, who won the 1968 Masters when Robert De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard. The one that still carried a 2-iron when most pros went to hybrids.

Trust it, Bill. Trust it.

The eldest child, Jay Jr., the one saddled with the father's famous name and the one still struggling to find his own way as a pro golfer, had watched his brother's dejection as he made bogey on the 18th hole of regulation to fall to 8 under and into a tie with Hunter Mahan. Jay Jr. saw through his brother's soft, easy-going veneer that he inherited from his father.

"He's not chill," Jay Jr. said. "He's got some serious fire, but he tries not to show it."

Neither one of the boys knew completely what was at stake on Sunday afternoon. They were playing to win a tournament. In the first two playoff holes, Bill had gotten up and down from some scary places. At the 17th hole, he had averted ruin when the fluffy Bermuda grass slowed his approach shot to the green enough to keep it from completely disappearing into a watery grave.

Trust it, Bill. Trust it.

After everything that had happened, he was here with this little 4-footer for par to win $11.44 million.

Trust it, Bill. Trust it.

The putt fell and he was the champion.

"My hands were shaking," Bill said afterward. "My hands were shaking in regulation, in the playoffs, that last putt there. I don't know how far it was, it looked like 12 feet."

The father was overjoyed. The second son had heard his pleadings to trust it.

"If he hadn't won it I would still be proud of him," Jay Sr. said after his son's final putt. "But it was great to see him pull it out at the end, especially with three pretty amazing pars."

Bubba Watson and Aaron Baddeley had hung around to congratulate Bill and his family. Baddeley looked upbeat though he had shot 2-over par on Sunday to finish a shot out of the playoff. A consolation prize might come soon if Greg Norman makes him a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup team.

"If he doesn't get a pick now?" Watson said.

"I'm out of it," Jay Sr. said about Fred Couples' announcement coming on Tuesday.

After everything was done, the interviews and congratulations, the brothers were off to celebrate with the family. They still needed to make it home to sing "Happy Birthday" to Fran.

Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at evans.espn@gmail.com.

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