Bill Haas has ‘win-win’ with father, Jay, as his caddie at RSM Classic

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bill Haas stood in the 18th fairway at the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort on Thursday afternoon, trying to figure out the strengthening afternoon winds and how they might affect his approach from 136 yards out. Haas, 35, has competed in 342 PGA Tour events, so this wasn’t exactly something new.

Nonetheless, if he needed more seasoning, and a pretty informed second opinion, he needed only to ask the man standing a few feet away – his temporary caddie and full-time dad, Jay Haas, who teed it up on the PGA Tour 799 times.

Jay is Bill’s teacher, and the two have spent countless hours on the range together, but never before had Jay been his caddie at a PGA Tour event. This being the final tournament of the fall portion of the season, and with Jay having finished his PGA Tour Champions campaign, it seemed like the perfect time.

Bill would shoot level-par 70 at Seaside, seven shots off Chris Kirk’s first-day lead at the RSM Classic (Kirk shot 9-under 63 at the Plantation Course), but the number did little to dampen the overall enjoyment of the experience. Bill’s mother, Jan, walked along, and Bill’s own family is here this week, too. It’ll be a low-pressure, fun-filled family get-together, regardless of finish.

“It was very cool,” said Jay Haas, who is 63. “I’ve been around watching him plenty of times, but it was nice to be able to hear him, and see him up close, hear some of his thoughts. We play enough together that it wasn’t any type of shocking experience for either one of us. We talk about golf when we’re playing just a casual round – ‘What are you thinking about here?’ ‘What are you going to hit here?’ It was a little bit more of that.”

Jay laughed. “I just got this ‘backpack’ on my back that makes me a little slower,” Jay said.

At least Bill met his father in the middle when it came to toting that heavy bag that his caddie usually would carry. He had a lighter carry bag. “I alerted him (Bill) to the Titleist site,” Jay said, “and told him which one to order.”

Bill, a six-time winner on the Tour, hit the ball fine, but he couldn’t get the putts to fall, and didn’t make his first birdie until the 13th hole. He still enjoyed the experience of sharing the round with his father, and talking through the shots. The last time Jay had caddied for Bill was the Western Amateur when Bill was only 15 years old. He’s been there outside the ropes plenty of times, watching Bill at the U.S. Amateur, and in college events, and at everything on the PGA Tour from Q-School to the Tour Championship. For all the golf the two still play together, this was a different dynamic.

Bill Haas didn’t have a great season in 2016-17, missing the Tour Championship for the first time in eight campaigns. He made 25 starts and had four top-10 finishes, his highlight being a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Hearing a new voice on the bag, and getting some new thoughts to process as he assessed his shots, was something he welcomed.

“It’s one of those things, I feel pretty lucky to have a guy like my dad, with all the experience that he has, to caddie for me,” Bill said. “I don’t know that I was going to pull him off a club, or he was going to pull me off a club. We both know how to hit a shot. Certainly we didn’t knock the pins down today, but I played a little better than my score.”

Adds Bill, “I mean, the guy’s got more rounds played than anybody else on Tour, or close to it. His ability to know about shots and what to hit in certain situations is huge. And he clearly cares how I do. It’s a win-win.”

Jay Haas won nine times on the PGA Tour and 18 more times on the PGA Tour Champions. Being a caddie was part of his upbringing at St. Clair Country Club in Belleville, Ill., where his uncle, 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby, or Uncle Bob, as the family calls him, taught the game to his young nephews, Jay Haas and his brother, former PGA Tour pro and current Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas.

“It was $4 for 18 holes, and if you did any good, you got $5,” Jay said of his time as a looper in his early days. “That was not my idea of fun back then. I wanted to play. I was starting to play and play well, and most of the guys I was caddying for I was better than. That was frustrating. In this case, I’m not (better).”

U.S. Captain Jay Haas (right) watches play alongside his son Bill at The Presidents Cup.

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Bill Haas has ‘win-win’ with father, Jay, as his caddie at RSM Classic

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Bill Haas stood in the 18th fairway at the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort on Thursday afternoon, trying to figure out the strengthening afternoon winds and how they might affect his approach from 136 yards out. Haas, 35, has competed in 342 PGA Tour events, so this wasn’t exactly something new.

Nonetheless, if he needed more seasoning, and a pretty informed second opinion, he needed only to ask the man standing a few feet away – his temporary caddie and full-time dad, Jay Haas, who teed it up on the PGA Tour 799 times.

Jay is Bill’s teacher, and the two have spent countless hours on the range together, but never before had Jay been his caddie at a PGA Tour event. This being the final tournament of the fall portion of the season, and with Jay having finished his PGA Tour Champions campaign, it seemed like the perfect time.

Bill would shoot level-par 70 at Seaside, seven shots off Chris Kirk’s first-day lead at the RSM Classic (Kirk shot 9-under 63 at the Plantation Course), but the number did little to dampen the overall enjoyment of the experience. Bill’s mother, Jan, walked along, and Bill’s own family is here this week, too. It’ll be a low-pressure, fun-filled family get-together, regardless of finish.

“It was very cool,” said Jay Haas, who is 63. “I’ve been around watching him plenty of times, but it was nice to be able to hear him, and see him up close, hear some of his thoughts. We play enough together that it wasn’t any type of shocking experience for either one of us. We talk about golf when we’re playing just a casual round – ‘What are you thinking about here?’ ‘What are you going to hit here?’ It was a little bit more of that.”

Jay laughed. “I just got this ‘backpack’ on my back that makes me a little slower,” Jay said.

At least Bill met his father in the middle when it came to toting that heavy bag that his caddie usually would carry. He had a lighter carry bag. “I alerted him (Bill) to the Titleist site,” Jay said, “and told him which one to order.”

Bill, a six-time winner on the Tour, hit the ball fine, but he couldn’t get the putts to fall, and didn’t make his first birdie until the 13th hole. He still enjoyed the experience of sharing the round with his father, and talking through the shots. The last time Jay had caddied for Bill was the Western Amateur when Bill was only 15 years old. He’s been there outside the ropes plenty of times, watching Bill at the U.S. Amateur, and in college events, and at everything on the PGA Tour from Q-School to the Tour Championship. For all the golf the two still play together, this was a different dynamic.

Bill Haas didn’t have a great season in 2016-17, missing the Tour Championship for the first time in eight campaigns. He made 25 starts and had four top-10 finishes, his highlight being a tie for fifth at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Hearing a new voice on the bag, and getting some new thoughts to process as he assessed his shots, was something he welcomed.

“It’s one of those things, I feel pretty lucky to have a guy like my dad, with all the experience that he has, to caddie for me,” Bill said. “I don’t know that I was going to pull him off a club, or he was going to pull me off a club. We both know how to hit a shot. Certainly we didn’t knock the pins down today, but I played a little better than my score.”

Adds Bill, “I mean, the guy’s got more rounds played than anybody else on Tour, or close to it. His ability to know about shots and what to hit in certain situations is huge. And he clearly cares how I do. It’s a win-win.”

Jay Haas won nine times on the PGA Tour and 18 more times on the PGA Tour Champions. Being a caddie was part of his upbringing at St. Clair Country Club in Belleville, Ill., where his uncle, 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby, or Uncle Bob, as the family calls him, taught the game to his young nephews, Jay Haas and his brother, former PGA Tour pro and current Wake Forest coach Jerry Haas.

“It was $4 for 18 holes, and if you did any good, you got $5,” Jay said of his time as a looper in his early days. “That was not my idea of fun back then. I wanted to play. I was starting to play and play well, and most of the guys I was caddying for I was better than. That was frustrating. In this case, I’m not (better).”

U.S. Captain Jay Haas (right) watches play alongside his son Bill at The Presidents Cup.

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Sam Torrance: Five have FedEx Cup fate in their hands but remember Bill Haas – there are no guarantees

Five players head into this week’s Tour Championship with their fate in their own hands and it is tough to see the overall winner of the FedEx Cup coming from outside of that group.

American trio Jordan Spieth, Jordan Thomas and Dustin Johnson, Australia’s Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm of Spain all head to Atlanta, Georgia knowing that victory at East Lake will secure the FedEx Cup title and $10m prize money.

The quintet can control their own destiny. Rickie Fowler, however, who is sixth, knows that winning the Tour Championship may not be enough to claim the overall FedEx Cup gong.

But while Spieth, Thomas, Johnson, Leishman and Rahm are favourites and playing great golf at the minute, there are no guarantees than any of them will win the big prize.

American Bill Haas famously captured the FedEx Cup in 2011 having started the final week of the play-offs and the 30-player event in Atlanta in 25th place in the rankings in terms of points.

Despite his billing, Haas ended proceedings top of the pile, 15 points clear of fellow countryman Webb Simpson after beating Hunter Mahan on the third extra hole of a tense Tour Championship play-off.

One player who will be full of confidence, though, is Leishman following his wire-to-wire triumph at the BMW Championship on Sunday, which saw him jump three places to fourth in the Tour standings.

It was an outstanding performance from the 33-year-old. As soon as anyone came near him he just made another birdie. He was brilliant and played beautifully. Even when he got into trouble, he would produce an exquisite chip to calm the situation and any nerves.

I was delighted for him. He’s in the top-15 in the world rankings now and seems very much settled in life away from the course, appears happier than ever and that has resulted in him playing some great golf.

It is only two and a half years since his wife Audrey was told she had a five per cent chance of survival after being hospitalised with toxic shock syndrome. She survived and that family unit, with his children, has seen him thrive with club in hand.

England’s Justin Rose was also magnificent at Lake Forest. You look at his four rounds and think ‘how can that not win’ but that just goes to show how good Leishman, who tied for sixth at this year’s Open Championship, was.

To finish five shots adrift of Leishman was no disgrace and I barely saw a bad shot from him all day on Sunday. The 37-year-old is having a great end to the season and he looks back to his best. It’s going to be an intriguing final leg of the FedEx Cup.

A special mention, meanwhile, must go to Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, who claimed the first women’s Major title by a European since 2013 on Sunday with victory at the Evian Championship. She is a special.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

Chosen to Go (Bill Haas, Emerson Falls) Tribal Trails K472



Bill gave his life to God while a teenager and then tells about his time in Cambodia. Now he is working around the Great Lakes region starting Native churches. Emerson shares with us his favorite Bible verse. Together they tell us that we are chosen by God to serve Him.

Music: Eric & Michelle Sinclair, Carolanne Lovegrove, Liza Bird