U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III has a daunting job ahead of him: filling the four spots on his squad reserved for wildcard picks. Who’s on DLIII’s short list? Presumably he already has his favorites — and we have ours. Each day in the run-up to Sept. 12, when Love will announce three of his picks (he won’t name his final pick until Sept. 26, the Monday after the Tour Championship), a GOLF.com staffer will make the case for a player who deserves the nod. Up next, 2011 FedEx Cup winner Bill Haas. Who do you think belongs on the team? Let us know here.
The golf world gets so worked up about the Ryder Cup that you’d swear it’s the only match-play event of any consequence. That’s not true, of course, which is worth remembering when weighing Bill Haas’s potential value to Davis Love III and his U.S. squad.
Haas, 34, has never pegged it in a Ryder Cup but he might have more big-time match-play experience than just about any would-be Ryder Cup rookie. He’s a three-time Presidents Cupper and has played in six WGC Match Plays, with a cumulative record in those two events of 9-13-3. Those numbers might not wow you but a closer look reveals that Haas’s match-play chops have improved with time.
(As a big aside, let’s also not forget that Haas won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup bonus in 2011 on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff, and has six other PGA Tour wins, plus a top-10 finish at this year’s Open Championship.)
In his three appearances at the WGC Match Play, Haas failed to get of the first round. In 2014, he advanced to the round of 32, and in 2016, the quarterfinals, losing to Chris Kirk 2&1. Haas, as analysts like to say, is trending in the right direction.
Then there’s the Presidents Cup. In 2011, as a captain’s pick and rookie, Haas struggled, losing four of his five matches. In 2013, he made the team on his own merit, improving to a 2-2-1 record. He joined the U.S. squad once again in South Korea in 2015, thanks to a captain’s pick from his father, Jay, and delivered in a climactic Sunday singles clash with home-country hero Sangmoon Bae.
On the 12th hole, Haas grabbed the lead in their hard-fought match by rolling in a 35-footer for birdie. He never relinquished the lead after that, ensuring the U.S. its ninth win in the Presidents Cup, albeit by the smallest margin since the teams tied in 2003. Not since 2005 had the event been decided by the final match. Talk about overcoming pressure.
“It was different from anything else I’ve ever felt on a golf course,” Haas said. “There were so many things running through my head. I had trouble concentrating. I don’t know how I got through it.”
But he did — for himself, his dad, and his team. He did it with flair in the face of immense pressure. Oh, and he did it as a captain’s pick.
When the Ryder Cup returns to the U.S. at the end of September with the Americans shouldering outsize expectations, Haas is a guy Love should want on his team. He’s earned it.