By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Most players would be pretty satisfied with three rounds in the 60s. Bill Haas, though, was headed for the range on Saturday afternoon.
He's 8 under and in contention for what would be his second straight victory so Haas certainly didn't want to leave anything to chance. He knows he'll need to go low to overtake Johnson Wagner, who just birdied the 18th hole to get to 14 under.
Haas had a relatively quiet round on Saturday until he birdied three straight starting at the 15th hole. The first came courtesy of a 32-footer while the second birdie was another long one from 23. His drive at the par-5 17th strayed left and hit a man in the knee before bouncing into the fairway on the way to the third sub-par score.
"Today was kind of a mixed bag," Haas acknowledged. "I hit a lot of nice shots that didn't result in birdies. ... Then those last four holes I played in three under and it could easily have not been that way.
"So I'm counting my blessings to shoot 3 under par and with that said, I'm going to go hit a few on the raange and hopefully figiure something out and have a decent Sunday."
Haas took a share of the lead into the final round of last week's AT&T National, shot 66 and ended up winning by three. The victory was the fifth of his career and represented his seventh top-10 of the season.
Haas is obviously playing well but contending can take its toll mentally, as well as physically. Haas will be the first to tell you he can be hard on himself but this week the former Wake Forest All-American has been able to stay focused on the task at hand.
"This week I've tried to do a good job of staying in the moment and telling myself that last week you did it, you never know what will happen," Haas said. "... I'm going to need the leaders to not go crazy low but a good round tomorrow will put me in a great poisition."
Haas has now played 11 rounds at The Old White TPC and shot in the 60s nine times. He lost in a playoff to Scott Stallings two years ago so he's got a comfort zone.
"This course is gettable," Haas said. "If you drive it halfway decent you should shoot under par here and that's what I've been able to do. I'm finding most of the fairways and just kind of giving myself some opportunities and hopefully tomorrow all the ones that you're supposed to make I'll make when it comes to putting."