ORLANDO, Fla. — Well, that was painful.
Both literally and figuratively for Bill Haas, who is nursing a painful neck injury he sustained while picking up a towel getting out of a shower in Los Angeles at the Northern Trust Open in February.
Early on Thursday, the pain was obsolete as he made a run at Justin Rose’s early Arnold Palmer Invitational lead, going 6 under through 13 holes. But, back-to-back bogeys to end his round pushed him to a 3-under 69 – falling from second to fifth in the process – and put the injury on the forefront of his mind.
“(The injury is) bothering me, but I can still play,” said Haas, who eagled No. 6 with a wedge from 117 yards. “I took last week off, purposely, to rest it. It still feels bad, but I am able to play.
“When I look to the left, it hurts. It certainly hurts more when you are making bogeys, and when you play well you don’t notice it.”
Statistically, Haas enjoyed a brilliant round, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, including the tough 18th with the pin tucked right above the water on the right. His approach into 18 challenged the hole and settled 12 feet behind it, but he then picked up his first three-putt of the round to fall four shots off the lead.
“I didn’t miss a shot on 17 or 18 and made two bogeys. I’m taking the positive out of that,” said Haas, who tied his career-best round at Bay Hill with the 69. He has broken 70 only twice. “I hit the wrong club at 17. (On 18) I thought I made the first putt, thought I made the second.
“It is disappointing. It was a really good round ballstriking wise, I thought. And I just didn’t finish well.”
His troubles started before his closing holes. After going 9 of 9 on greens hit on the front, Haas missed three of the first four on the back, leading to his first bogey of the day at the par-3 14th hole.
Haas also basically gave a shot to the field by managing only a par at the easy par-5 16th, a hole that had nine eagles and 83 birdies recorded just before the end of the first round.
“I started the day with four birdies and an eagle, so there is no reason to think I can’t start that way again and get those two shots back,” said Haas.
He’ll have to make that early move starting on that same, troublesome back nine Friday. Haas will tee off with Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson at 8:16 a.m. on the 10th hole.