Swing tip helps Haas contend at Hope

Bill Haas is in position for his first win on the PGA Tour.

Bill Haas is in position for his first win on the PGA Tour.

LA QUINTA, Calif. – There’s something tantalizing about golf tips, which is why numerous magazines and TV shows are dedicated to them.

Their popularity comes from the hacker’s hope that he or she is just one small piece of advice from finding that elusive secret to success. Many tips are worthless, but some prove helpful, even to PGA Tour players, if for no other reason than the brief increase in confidence they provide.

Take Bill Haas, whose missed cut at last week’s Sony Open may have been a blessing in disguise. One small piece of advice has Haas one shot off the lead with 18 holes remaining at the Bob Hope Classic. He is seeking his first PGA Tour victory.

Of course, any tip is likely to be valuable when you’re practicing with the company Haas was around on Monday, two days before the Hope began.

He flew from Hawaii to California last Sunday, then practiced the next day with his father, former Bob Hope champ Jay Haas; his great-uncle, ’68 Masters champ Bob Goalby; and the famed instructor, Billy Harmon, at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells, Calif.

“I was kind of bitching and moaning because of how bad I was playing, and they’re telling me just relax, it’s the first week,” Haas said. “They gave me a tip to just move my right foot. ... It was closed, and I just opened up my right foot and it allows me to turn a little better.”

Harmon caddied for Jay Haas when he won the ’88 Hope; Jay Haas was practicing in the California desert before heading to Hawaii for the first event of the Champions Tour season.

“The picture with my dad and Billy here, he’s picking up Bill up on the 18th hole,” Bill Haas said. “That’s a pretty neat picture. And I would love to have one we could have next to each other. That would definitely be pretty special.”

Haas is 22-under 266 (68-66-66-66), one shot off the lead held by Bubba Watson and rookie Alex Prugh with 18 holes remaining.

Watson made double bogey on his final hole Sunday, giving more players a chance to win the Hope on Monday (the finish was delayed one day when play was washed out Thursday). Nine players will start the final round within three shots of the lead; six of those players, including the top four, are seeking their first PGA Tour victory.

Tim Clark, owner of seven runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour, is tied with Haas. Clark shot 63 in his second round at the PGA West’s Palmer Course, which will also host Monday’s fifth round.

“I’ve got to go out there tomorrow and try to stay in the same frame of mind,” Clark said.

Like the physical game, there’s plenty of advice that can be given about golf’s mental side. Many players could find Prugh’s words valuable; he was asked Sunday why he’s close to his second pro title in two years (he won last year’s New Zealand Open on the Nationwide Tour), after winning just once at the University of Washington.

“I think I just have grown up as a golfer,” he said. “I’ve kind of acknowledged my weaknesses and actually taken them on and practiced them. I think my course management’s a lot better, and just my mind in general.”

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