Bill Haas bogeyed two of the last three holes Thursday in the Nedbank Golf Challenge to slip back into a share of the first-round lead with Nicolas Colsaerts.
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Two shots ahead after the 15th hole, the American dropped strokes on 16 and 18 to match Colsaerts at 2-under-par 70 in the 12-player event at Gary Player Country Club.
Making his first appearance in the $5 million tournament, Haas salvaged boyey with a 10-foot putt on the 18th after fighting his way out of the stubborn Kikuyu grass rough.
”Happy to make that last putt; a 6 on the last would have really stung,” Haas said. ”Happy with 2 under, but it would have been nice to shoot a couple more. Because it’s playing tough out there.”
Two-time defending champion Lee Westwood was a stroke back along with Paul Lawrie and South African star Louis Oosthuizen. Charl Schwartzel, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson shot 72, Justin Rose had a 73, and Garth Mulroy was last at 75.
Haas’s father, Jay, was tied for second at 71 in the seniors’ Champions Challenge. Bernhard Langer topped the eight-man field at 68. Mark Calcavecchia also had a 71.
The last time the Haas duo was at Sun City was in 2003, when Bill came to watch his father play but ended up ignoring most of the golf to go on safari, see lions and crocodiles and to do some water skiing.
”I only watched like two holes of golf, so a lot of the holes I’ve seen for the first time,” Bill Haas said. ”At one point (on Thursday) I was on seven green and my dad was on 13 green, so I could see him. It is neat to feel like his peer this week.”