Bill Haas bounced back from a bogey on the first hole to card a 4-under-par 68 and take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Adam Scott, 2012 champion Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa in the 78th Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Haas, whose best finish in a major was a tie for 12th in the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, followed his opening bogey with three birdies on the next six holes and had three more on the back, in addition to another bogey at No. 17.
However, he made his last birdie on the final hole and broke 70 for the first time in 17 rounds over five appearances at Augusta, where his best result was a tie for 20th last year.
“I knew that stat before today’s round, so to shoot that score was pretty good,” said Haas, whose father, Jay, played in the first major of the year 22 times, with his best finish a tie for third in 1995. “I had some nice putts, a couple of 20-footers. Sometimes, you’re happy to two-putt those. To have those go in can certainly swing your score one way or another.
“We’re staying together this week (he said of his father). He’s on the range with me in the morning. It’s great having him at home and on the range.”
Bob Goalby, Haas’ great uncle, won the Masters in 1968.
Scott, trying to become the fourth player to win the Green Jacket in consecutive years, was at 4-under through 11 holes before hitting his tee shot on the 12th hole off the bank and into Rae’s Creek en route to a double-bogey 5.
The first Aussie to win the Masters recovered with a birdie on the 14th hole and sank a seven-foot par putt on the final hole to wrap up his 68.
Oosthuizen, who captured the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews and lost to Watson in a playoff at the Masters two years ago, holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to complete his 69.
Watson posted his first bogey-free score in 80 rounds in the majors, making birdies on No. 3 and both par-5s on the back nine to record his 69.
Kevin Stadler, playing in his first Masters, shot 67 and was tied for third with Brandt Snedeker, Jonas Blixt of Sweden, K.J. Choi of South Korea, Gary Woodland, Mark Leishman of Australia and Jimmy Walker, the FedEx Cup points leader.