ORLANDO, Fla. — The son of a pro golfer, Bill Haas can’t even remember how young he was when he first met Arnold Palmer, the 83-year-old host of the tournament he is currently co-leading.
“I don’t know, but I also met Mr. Nicklaus, and I know they were huge deals,” Haas said. “But I was young and they were like my dad.
“I got to appreciate it more as I got older.”
As the son of Jay Haas — who won nine Tour events over a span of three decades — little Bill only knew these golfing giants as “my dad’s friends.”
Now Bill Haas, 30, can turn the family album into a storybook.
The kid who grew into a star worthy of receiving the Arnold Palmer Scholarship at Arnie’s alma mater, Wake Forest, shot a 6-under 66 in the second round on Friday to share the lead in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Haas and first-round leader Justin Rose are on top at 9-under for a 135 total. They lead John Huh by a shot and Ken Duke, J.J. Henry and Jimmy Walker by two.
Defending champion Tiger Woods finished with three bogeys to post a 70, an implosion leaving him four shots behind.
Playing with Rose and Ernie Els, Woods was making a closing charge as moderate rain pelted Bay Hill. He had pulled to 8-under when he dumped his ball in the water at the par 5 16th Then his driver found the rough on the next two holes.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Tiger said. “And certainly, four shots can be made up.”
Rose didn’t need putting tips after his opening-round 65 but heard one Friday. As he lined up a putt on 13, he said a fan planted a seed in his mind, yelling, “It goes right! It goes right!”
It went left — for bogey.
“It got my back up a tiny bit,” said the affable Brit, who pointed his putter toward the fan and smiled.
Haas surged after starting the day at 3-under, rebounding from an uneven first-round finish.
Haas’ DNA also includes his uncle, former Tour vet Jerry Hass. He’s also a great nephew to 1968 Masters champ Bob Goalby.
Instruction is a phone call away. Bill won his first Tour event, the 2010 Bob Hope Classic, thanks to Goalby, who advised him to turn out his right toe during his swing.
“I would say everything that I do is through my dad,” Bill said. “He’s who I go to first.”
He followed his father and uncle to Palmer’s old school, Wake Forest. Bill was a three-time All-American and was awarded an Arnold Palmer scholarship his senior season.
Palmer gave Bill a sponsor exemption so Haas could make his first start at Bay Hill in 2008. So even when he got a crick in his neck after reaching for a shower towel recently, he wasn’t about to miss Arnie’s event.
The Haas family never has won here nor had much luck, with the father, the son and the uncle missing 11 cuts in 31 starts. Bill’s best finish is a tie for 17th in 2010.
“I’ve always said, ‘Mr. Palmer’s there when you walk off the 18th green,’ ” he said. “He’s always saying, ‘Thanks for coming and I’m glad you’re here.’
“I’m always saying, ‘I really would like to play better and see you later.’ No matter what happens this weekend, to shoot two (more) good rounds and hopefully get to speak to him about it would be pretty special.”
Nothing would be better than shaking hands with Dad’s old friend at the 18th-green trophy presentation on Sunday.