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July 1, 2013

Haas pulls away to win PGA event

BETHESDA, Md. — Bill Haas made the long walk across a makeshift bridge and under the grandstands to the 18th green for the trophy presentation, high-fiving kids along the railing and raising his cap to thousands of fans who cheered as they saw him coming.

His victory Sunday in the AT&T National was even sweeter when he compared it with all the times he failed.

“As many times as I’ve choked and hit bad shots and I’ve been nervous and it hasn’t worked out — I was feeling all those things today — and to hit good, quality golf shots down the stretch is such a good feeling,” Haas said. “I wish I could explain it. It’s amazing.”

His golf spoke volumes.

Haas pulled away from a crowd of contenders with three straight birdies, two good pars and one good hop. It led to a 5-under 66, giving him a three-shot win at Congressional over Roberto Castro and putting him into distinguished company on two levels.

Haas has won at least one PGA Tour event in each of the last four years, joining Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. And he kept the pedigree of champions at the AT&T National on a day when a half-dozen players were trying to win their first PGA Tour event. In the seven-year history of the tournament, Rose was the lowest-ranked player to win. He was No. 35 when he won at Aronimink in 2010. Haas started the week at No. 29.

Haas is honest to fault, which explains why he is too hard on himself.

He talked about how he “threw up on myself” at Riviera when he lost a three-shot lead in the final round, and he twice used the word “choke” in describing past failures.

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