Tuesday morning was different, though. The kid isn't at the Wachovia Championship to watch. He's here to play. Haas not only has a locker next to his father, Jay, but a tee time Thursday morning against a field that includes Masters champion Mike Weir and Davis Love III.
The younger Haas also has plenty of game.
'There are a lot of 'can't-miss' kids that do miss,' said Curtis Strange, whose friendship with the father dates to their NCAA titles at Wake Forest in 1975-76. 'But from what I know of Bill, he can't miss. He's full of potential. He has a natural swing and he seems to want it.'
The 20-year-old Haas was an All-American at Wake Forest last year as a sophomore and the medalist at the U.S. Amateur, where he lost 1-up in the semifinals to eventual champion Ricky Barnes.
The Wachovia Championship is his second tour event. He played in the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro last year and missed the cut by one shot. He wants to play in the Walker Cup this summer, graduate next year and then turn pro.
Where that leads is anyone's guess, although Haas doesn't have history on his side. Not many sons of successful golfers make it to the big leagues. Even fewer of them win. Al and Brent Geiberger. Julius and Guy Boros. Joe and Joe Jr. Kirkwood.
The best father-son combination ever? Young Tom Morris won the first of four consecutive British Opens the year after Old Tom Morris won his fourth Open. That was 135 years ago.
The Haas family outing at Quail Hollow comes one week after Jack Nicklaus played in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs on the Nationwide Tour with his four sons. Only the 63-year-old father made the cut. 'I came here to play with them, and all of a sudden I'm the only one left,' Nicklaus said. He wound up in a tie for 45th.
Three of the Nicklaus sons played as professionals. Only one of them -- Gary -- ever earned his card. He lost in a playoff to Phil Mickelson in the 2000 BellSouth Classic, but all that did was buy him an extra year on tour. Dave Stockton Jr., whose father won two PGA Championships, has been on and off the PGA TOUR the last several years. Andy Miller, Johnny's son, made a hole-in-one at the U.S. Open last year and earned his PGA Tour card at Q-School.
Golf at the highest level is about passion, hunger and technique, traits that are not easily inherited. Making it even more difficult for sons to follow their fathers is an exclusive PGA Tour roster, with about 200 players every year.
'The percentages are against you,' Jay Haas said. 'The odds of any player making it big is pretty slim, so two from the same family is rare.'
Other theories abound. Topping the list is pressure to live up to a father's reputation. No son had a bigger burden than Gary Nicklaus, who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 as the heir to the Golden Bear. Some kids who spent their childhood hanging around the tour get tired of it. Others simply don't have the talent or the hunger.
'All kids of golfers are good athletes,' said Strange, whose 21-year-old son Thomas occasionally qualifies for matches at North Carolina State. 'Do you inherit the same drive to play well? Do you inherit a perfect golf swing? They might love the game, but they're not in love with the game. That's a huge difference.'
Bill Haas' first love was basketball, but the passion turned to golf during high school when he grew to 6-foot-2 and adopted a swing so natural and powerful that he rarely asked his father for help. He still remembers the first time he beat the old man. It was three years ago at the Cliffs Keowee Vineyards course at home in Greenville, S.C. The next summer, Bill shot under par every week he played, highlighted by a 62 at the Porter Cup.
'My dad never pushed me to play golf at all,' he said. 'He never came out to give me lessons. I had to ask him for a tip or ask him to watch me hit balls.'
It helps that he comes from a golfing family. Jay Haas' uncle is former Masters champion Bob Goalby. His brother, Jerry, is the golf coach at Wake Forest. His brother-in-law is Dillard Pruitt, a tour rules official and former tour player.
Still, Haas said he only wanted his sons -- 21-year-old Jay Jr. plays at Augusta State -- to have a chance to learn. At best, he thought it would help them in the business world.
'There was always a club laying around, but they've done this on their own,' Haas said. 'I showed them the swing, the setup, the grip. But I never said, 'You have to go play.''
Bill figured it out for himself. His father is curious where it will lead.
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