Updated: Friday, 11 April 2014 11:22 | By Agence France-Presse

It's a 'family affair' for leader Haas at golf Masters

Winning the Masters has been a family affair for Bill Haas and his ancestors since his great-uncle, Bob Goalby, captured the green jacket in 1968.


It's a 'family affair' for leader Haas at golf Masters

Bill Hass of the US acknowledges the crowd after putting on the 18th green during the first round of the 78th Masters Golf Tournament, at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, on April 10, 2014 - by Emmanuel Dunand

"It has been a special place in our family since then," Haas said of Augusta National.

So it's no wonder there's a special spark for Haas after firing a four-under par 68 Thursday to seize a one-stroke lead after day one of the 78th Masters -- it's in his blood.

"I guess so," Haas said. "We've had a bunch of family play here."

Haas, whose best Masters finish was a share of 20th last year, is the son of Jay Haas, who was third in the 1995 Masters.

The younger Haas has also had two uncles play in the Masters. Dillard Pruitt was 13th in 1992 and also played the next year while Jerry Haas was 31st in 1985.

"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," Bill Haas said.

"My dad played here 22 times. We came most of the years. I remember a lot of the shots he hit."

Haas, whose four PGA wins include the 2011 Tour Championship to claim the season playoff crown, broke away from his family this week, however, to help achieve his best Masters round in his fifth appearance.

Haas has used his older brother Jay Jnr, who played college golf at nearby Augusta State, as a caddie in past Masters starts.

But this week, Haas cracked 70 for the first time using Scott Gneiser as his bagman. Gneiser caddied for David Toms when Toms won the 2001 PGA Championship two hours' drive away in Atlanta.

"I needed to switch it up," Bill Haas said. "My brother has been on the bag a bunch for a few years and I think I needed a change.

"He was available and has a major win, has been under the gun, played a lot of big events. I don't think he can do anything but help me."

In round one, Haas gave him plenty of credit for advice on shotmaking.

"He helped me on every shot," Haas said. "He's giving me the yardage and what he thinks the wind is doing. I certainly confide in him just like I would have my brother. No certain reason why my brother is not working and why Scotty is working. It's just the way it is right now.

"I don't think much different than I did with my brother but I do know that deep down, he's been under the gun a bunch of times with David. He has seen a lot more pressure-packed situations than a lot of caddies. So I certainly feel comfortable about that out there."

Haas' father is staying with him this week and offering advice, but there are some things even he cannot do for Bill.

"I never remember thinking, 'Man, I wish I could hit this shot for my dad,' but I do know now that there's some times I'm like, 'I wish my dad could hit this shot for me,'" Haas said.

"It's great having him here. We're staying together this week. He's on the range with me in the morning and hopefully he hasn't left -- he's my ride home."

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