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Bill Haas makes own Masters memories

Bill Haas has been coming to the Masters since he was young enough to be left in a day care facility across the street from Augusta National Golf Club while his father, Jay, played in the tournament.

Young Bill didn't like it then, and he doesn't much care for the memory now.

Maybe that's why he's making his own memories this week.

Halfway through his first Masters - but more than 20 years since his first Masters visit - Haas is tied for 12th, six shots behind co-leaders Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

He's tacked together rounds of 72-70, riding a driver that's painting pictures in the April sky, and a dose of confidence that sounds almost precocious considering this is his first time between the ropes in the Masters.

"I want to contend," Haas said after his Friday round. "I think I'm playing well enough that I can do that.

"It would take an unbelievable weekend to be there at the end, but if I continue to strike it well I can be there."

Unlike all those years when Haas traipsed up and down Augusta's hills, following his father during his 22 tournament appearances, this time his parents and friends are trailing him.

At times, he finds his father in the crowd and they make eye contact, like they did after Bill made a par save at the 14th hole Friday. Jay gave Bill a sigh of relief gesture, understanding the good work his son had done on the par-4 hole.

Things such as that, and having his teacher Billy Harmon and friends hanging around the house they've rented this week, have helped put Haas in a good spot.

The 27-year-old Charlotte native and Wake Forest graduate won his first PGA Tour event this year at the Bob Hope Classic, and it eased the burden of expectation he'd struggled to shake.

Unlike Thursday, when Haas felt he played better than his even-par 72 suggested, he went home Friday feeling good about his position.

"I'm very happy with 2-under par," he said. "I've put myself in plenty of good spots."

Like the one he's in starting this Masters weekend.