Gerry Dulac: Augusta like second home for Haas family

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It is safe to assume Bill Haas was destined to play in the Masters. It might even be safer to think he one day will win the Masters.

After all, it is in the family.

Bill's dad, Jay, played in 22 Masters, making the cut 19 times, and could have won the green jacket in 1995 when he finished third, three shots behind winner Ben Crenshaw.

His uncle, Jerry, played in the 1985 Masters and was second low amateur behind Sam Randolph, finishing tied for 31st. His other uncle, Dillard Pruitt, his mother's brother, made two appearances at the Augusta National Golf Club and finished 13th in 1992.

But none of that compares to the accomplishment of his great uncle, Bob Goalby, who the green jacket in 1968 in one of the most infamous Masters. That was when Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina signed an incorrect scorecard that kept him out of a playoff and handed the title to Goalby.

"It's been a special place in our family since then," Bill Haas said.

It certainly was Thursday for young Bill Haas, who isn't so young anymore. He will be 32 next month, which seems old among so many of the young players on the PGA Tour, but he is still something of a neophyte at Augusta National.

This is his fifth appearance in the Masters, still a long way behind his dad, and he had never been much of a factor. That, though, all changed in the first round when his 4-under 68 -- his first sub-70 round in the Masters -- gave him sole possession of the lead and added to the Haas family lineage at Augusta National.

"It's something I think we are very proud of to have that many members of our family be able to tee it up here at Augusta," Haas said.

Haas is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour that includes the $10 million prize for winning the 2011 FedEx Cup championship. But he is not about to get carried away with his position, which has him holding a one-shot lead on a pair of former champions -- Adam Scott and Bubba Watson -- and a former British Open champ, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.

Just last week, he opened with a 65 that gave him the first-round lead at the Shell Houston Open, only to finish tied for 37th.

"So, I know, very recently, there's tons of golf left," Haas said. "I know that I can't expect too much."

Jay Haas knows what to expect at Augusta National. Nearly two decades ago, he was in contention until the very end, even though he was assessed a one-shot penalty in the third round when a gusty wind moved his ball while he was addressing a putt at the third hole.

In the final round, Jay Haas watched his approach to the par-5 15th hit on the putting surface and roll back into the water, leading to a costly bogey. He finished at 11-under 277, three shots behind Crenshaw, who won the green jacket for a second time.

"He certainly could have won that week," the younger Haas said. "It just didn't happen."

Then, he added: "I never remember thinking, man, I wish I could hit this shot for my dad. But I do know now that there are some times I wish my dad could hit this shot for me."

Bill's dad is here this week, living with his son and riding him to the course, no doubt imparting some of what he learned at Augusta National to the first-round leader.

"I think we are both our biggest fans" Haas said. "I pull for him every day and I watch every score he shoots on the Champions Tour. It's great having him [here]. He's on the range with me in the morning and he'll probably be there now. Hopefully, he hasn't left. He's my ride home."

All part of the Haas lineage at the Masters.

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com and Twitter @gerrydulac.


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