The lede after the second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, has to be that Bill Haas shot 6-under in the morning to get to 9-under and eventually end up tied for the lead with Justin Rose who shot 2-under in the afternoon.
But the very next sentence has to be that Tiger Woods had it at 8-under but finished at 5-under (T7) when he bogeyed the last three holes:
Yeah, it’s just the way it goes. 16 was unfortunate. 17 I made a bad swing, and 18 I made a bad swing. So all three holes I hit beautiful putts and I thought I made, but they’re not realistic putts. They’re outside that range, so I need to do a better job like I did most of the day getting it in there stiff and making those putts.
But he’s not all that worried about it:
I played way better than what I scored today. I missed a couple of short ones, and I had a rough finish. The score doesn’t indicate how well I played today, so that’s a good positive.
And like all good players, he has a short memory and is ready for Saturday, Moving Day:
I’m only four back. This golf course started to get a little fiery before the rain came in. It was surprising. It didn’t really dry out that much. It didn’t really get that wet even with a little bit of moisture on it, [the greens] still got a little spring in them.
For Bill Haas’ part, he’s thrilled with the way he played:
Yeah, obviously, I feel good about shooting two good scores at this place. I didn’t know the media tent where it was, I’ve never been in here. Never had that much great success here, but I’ve always enjoyed coming.
I had a nice week off last week, got some rest, got away from it, and just felt pretty good coming in.
He took some time to heal up a chink in his neck that he got from picking up a towel in the shower in LA, but it’s obviously not a show stopper:
We should call it a sore neck, not an injury, because it’s not really an injury. It’s just a pain in the butt, kind of.
But, no, I was playing pretty nice. Then worked on something Tuesday when I got down here with my brother. And I said how does that look? And then just, bam, everything kind of — I just feel pretty confident with my irons, which I’ve been struggling a little bit with it. So, so far, so good.
Then he got into a discussion of how important his dad, Jay Haas, is to his golf game. As he spoke about his relationship with his dad, I was struck with how close and warm it is…and that Davis Love is missing this in his life:
I would say everything that I do is through my dad. And even with Billy Harmon, when he teaches me a little, a lot of the influence comes through my dad through what I ask. He’s who I go to first. I’ll call my dad first about everything in the golf game, especially my golf swing. Then when I’m home and he’s home, I always like to go play and just say I need something, and he’ll give me something. So I think a numerous amount of tips that I’ve used, but not anything one specific or anything like that.
Billy Harmon, for his part, described Haas swing as, “uninterrupted rhythm not marred by thought.” And the guy in the media who got that quote wondered, “Is that true? Does rhythm come that easy to you that you don’t have to think about it? If so, does technique come to you easily so you don’t have to think about it either?”
I think rhythm‑wise, that’s not really something I think about. It’s more I’m thinking right now a good turn, which I feel like I do with my hips and with actually my right knee. For the longest time I was trying to keep my knees straight and then turn the body, but I just felt like I couldn’t ever turn because I’m just not flexible enough.
Then I watched Rory McIlroy, to me, his right knee moves. You know, your knee can move a little. So that’s my turn thought. Then from there, I’m just trying to keep my head straight. So there are thoughts there.
I’m not definitely thinking. But tempo‑wise, I think sometimes I know if I hit a bad one, I can tell that maybe that was quick, so I just say try to slow it down, breathe slower, then that might change that. But I’m never really thinking like 1, 2, or tempo like that.
Justin Rose felt pretty good about how he played and then tried to capture what happen to his group — Tiger, Ernie and himself — when the rains came up on the home stretch:
Yeah, sure. I mean, obviously, a good, solid round of golf, I guess, especially around Bay Hill. Any time you shoot under par, I think it’s good. I felt like today the course was there for the taking a little bit. I felt that through the middle of my round I was looking at the pins. I was feeling good. I was feeling like I was going to make some birdies.
You know, the finish kind of got the better of the whole group, really. The atmosphere seemed to change when it started to rain. Guys started to struggle a little bit coming in. I kind of lost my focus. Well, not lost my focus, but just kind of second guessed that putt down the hill [on 18 that lead to a 3-putt] a little bit on the speed once the rains fell. But that was the only thing that hampered the day, really. All in all, exciting day, and I’m in a good position.
And he too expressed his dismay at Tiger’s finish, but in the same breath affirmed Tiger’s assessment that he had played well:
Yeah, absolutely. He’s normally a fast finisher, and you can expect him to probably finish fast on the weekend. But, absolutely, he did a lot of hard work today. He actually played really well. I thought he was probably a couple of shots away from shooting 64 today at times. So, yeah, I’m sure he was very disappointed because he actually played some great golf today.
Then Rose did a good job of talking about what it’s like to play in the same group with Tiger. He’s just right there and you know he’s coming for you, so you better keep going lower:
Yeah, there is no doubt. You always sense his presence. It’s hard not to, obviously. His rounds are covered [by the media], left, right and center. You can’t avoid it sometimes. But when you’re playing with him, you can almost guarantee that he’ll be in the mix on Sunday at some point. So, yeah, absolutely.
If you can keep your nose in front of him, you’re probably signed for that right now and take your chances. But at the end of the day, you’ve only got to look at the golf course. He’s not looking around at what everyone else is doing, and that tells you the way that the game has to be played. You’ve got to have your head down, focusing, one shot at a time and executing as best you can. That is the way to get it done.
No truer words have ever been spoken. How do we know? Because all the guys who have been there, whether it’s playing with Tiger or in some other cauldron, say the same thing.