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Bill Haas rides Wachovia family fortune to opening 68

Written by: Staff

ATLANTA, May 5 (Reuters) American Bill Haas, making the most of unusual family fortune at this week's Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, charged into a share of the lead in the first round.

The 23-year-old, whose father Jay and brother Jay junior are also playing in the tournament, yesterdat chipped in for eagle at the par-five fifth on the way to a four-under-par 68 at Quail Hollow Club.

He ended a sun-baked day of near-perfect conditions atop the leaderboard, alongside compatriot Jim Furyk and South Africans Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini.

''It was a nice finish,'' Haas said of a scorching back nine of six-under 30 after he had launched his round at the par-five 10th.

''I was not expecting 30, but I was hitting it okay and I got lucky. I chipped in on five and some putts fell for me. So there you go.'' This was always going to be a special week for the Haas family, with Jay senior fresh from consecutive victories on the seniors Champions Tour and Jay junior surviving a three-way playoff on Monday for two spots in the .3 million event.

It the first time three members of the same family have competed in a PGA Tour event since Jack Nicklaus and sons Jack II and Gary played in the 1994 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

''We've commented all week on it, with my brother getting in this week,'' added Bill Haas, who lived the first two years of his life in a house just 20 minutes from Quail Hollow.

''My mom hasn't been here. She's driving back and forth and she's still got a young daughter at home.

''Plus one of my sisters is still running around school and doing stuff, so she's not been able to come out here all week.

'COOL WEEK' ''But a lot of friends and family are here, and it's a pretty cool week. Hopefully, I can keep it going for them.'' Bill Haas, the younger of the two brothers, is yet to win on the PGA Tour but is pleased with his career since he turned professional in 2004.

''Obviously you have ambitions, you want to win and you want to be top in the world when you get out there,'' he said.

''But everything I've done as a professional has been gradual progress so far.

''Granted, this year hasn't been wins and wins, top 10s and all that stuff, but overall I can't say I'm terribly displeased with my professional career. It's only two-and-a-half years old.

''I want to improve, and I think I'm trying to do that. I'm working hard, working harder than I ever have, and hopefully I can keep doing that.'' His best PGA Tour finish is a tie for ninth at the 2004 Deutsche Bank Championship but he arrived at Quail Hollow in good form after a closing 66 earned him a share of 15th at last week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

''There were a lot of good scores that day, but just to shoot 66, make some putts and see a low number go up, I'm riding on a little confidence,'' he added.

''I'm not surprised by a 68. I'm happy and I'm pleased with it.

It's better than 69.'' REUTERS VJ ND0806

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