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March 22 2013

3:30 PM

Haas' neck not hurting after 66

Haas is in contention entering the weekend at Bay Hill. (Cannon/Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- When Bill Haas reached down to pick up a towel the week of the Northern Trust Open, he tweaked his neck and shoulder to the point he almost withdrew from the tournament.

How much it's bothered him, however, is a matter of perspective.

"I shouldn't even have mentioned that," Haas said. "It's not bad. I can honestly play. I can make a full turn. Sometimes when I look to the left it kind of tightens in the back of the neck.

"We should call it a sore neck, not an injury. When you're playing poorly, it hurts, and when you're playing well, it doesn't hurt."

Through two rounds at Bay Hill, Haas has done the latter, which not only eases the pain in his neck but also comes as a bit of a surprise.

For one, Haas hasn't played well of late with a first-round loss in the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play and a near-last place finish at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

For another, he's never played particularly well here. In five trips to Bay Hill, Haas' only top 25 was a tie for 17th and twice he's missed the cut.

Friday, however, he was flawless with four birdies, an eagle and no bogeys en route to a 66 that has him at 9 under and in contention heading to the weekend.

When Haas, whose wife is due with the couple's first child in eight weeks, arrived here on Tuesday, he found something in his swing while working with his brother (who's also his caddie). In short, his head was moving backward at the top of his swing and he was getting underneath the plane.

Swing problem behind him, Haas now hopes he has a different interaction with Arnold Palmer -- who, like Haas went to Wake Forest -- when he walks off the 18th green on Sunday.

"He's there early when I finish," Haas said. "He always says thanks for coming and I'm always saying I really would like to play better and see you later."

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