Haas opens with 64, leads by twoCHARLOTTE – Bill Haas had the best opening round score at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club as he posted an 8 under 64, good enough for a two-stroke lead over Jonathan Byrd and David Toms. Haas had eight birdies and no bogeys on an afternoon when the weather was perfect with a gentle breeze and temperatures in the mid-60s.
Lucas Glover and Pat Perez shared fourth at minus-5, while Vijay Singh, Stuart Appleby and Rickie Fowler were among a group at 4 under, four back.
Haas started his round on the back-nine and registered birdies at 10 and 12, added a pair at 14 and 15 and four more at 2, 5, 7 and 8. His 64 tied for the lowest first round lead with Kirk Triplett, who turned the trick in 2004.
“Putted well, which leads into everything,” Haas said in reflecting on his round. “It makes you more comfortable over your iron shots knowing that you can maybe miss this shot and your putter might save you because I just had the good feeling going with it.
“Kind of a different thought with my putter,” he said. “I don’t even know if I can tell you what it is, it’s just different and it worked today. It’s early, a lot of golf left to play, and I hope it can just work for some of that time.”
Haas had punished his “gamer” putter by putting it on the shelf to go with a belly putter at Hilton Head. The benching seemed to be effective as the reunion went very well.
“Well, everybody is winning with it ad playing well with it, so I just wanted to try it,” Haas said about using the bell putter. “I’ve used on before a couple of times and liked it, liked the theory behind it. I thought these greens are a little more treacherous than Hilton Head which are almost completely flat.”
He felt it was more important with the greens here to be able to control speed more than worrying about a perfect line. On the first day, it paid off.
Toms, the 2003 champion, played well in conditions that were more trying in the morning.
“First of all, it was cold this morning, and I just hung in there, made a lot of pars, which if you looked at the leaderboard in the first hour of the round, everybody was trying to make pars. It started to warm up, and I birdied 6, eagled 7, and all of a sudden I'm into the round and playing well,” Toms said.
With the front-nine playing long due to the cold, Toms found himself hitting some long clubs into the greens. In fact, he hit four woods into greens on the front side. He hit a fairway wood into Nos. 3, 4, 6 (a par-3) and 9. While he made par on every hole except six, that was plenty good enough to keep him around the lead and positive about his play.
“So got off to a good start then and just played solid on the back,” he added. “One of those days where the golf course I thought was playing pretty difficult. So to shoot 6-under par, I'll certainly take it.
The wind was opposite from what Toms and most of the field were used to from past tournaments. When they teed off the wind was out of the north, rather than the usual south wind that is prevalent at Quail Hollow Club. But, having played the same wind in the pro-am on Wednesday, he knew what to expect.
“By the end of the day, if it tells you anything, yesterday I hit driver, 3-wood into 18 in the pro-am in the afternoon, and by the time I played it just a few minutes ago, I hit a 7-iron. The wind had turned around by the time we got to the last hole. We played 17 downwind and then I played 18 downwind,” said Toms.
Haas will get a chance to experience what Toms, Byrd and all the other morning players did in round one, when he tees off in the morning on Friday.
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