Back in 2002 I was fortunate enough to have my choice of 6 Tour events to play in as a result of my victory in the previous year’s National Club Pro Championship. I chose as one of my events The Greater Greensboro Open, which was somewhat of a homecoming as I had attended Wake Forest for two years in the 70’s. One of my teammates my freshman year was Jay Haas, and I had continued to run into Jay over the years as I would qualify for and odd Tour event or two. It was thus that I contacted Jay about the possibility of playing a practice round together, and luckily he was able to accommodate on Tuesday, although he said we would have to tee off later in the afternoon as he wanted to wait for his son, Bill, who had earned his own exemption into the tournament, to drive over from school (he was also attending Wake) and join us.
Billy showed up at about 3:30 and proceeded to tee it up without the benefit of a single practice ball. Jay teed off first, then I followed, and we both hit nice drives in the fairway to about the 150 marker, which on the 420 hole had us out there about 270. Billy took a couple of practice swings and then hit a liner down the left side of the fairway, nothing particularly special but oddly forceful. Jay and I got to our balls and I looked a bit up the fairway for Bills. I didn’t see anything right away so I kept scanning up toward the green until I saw a ball so far ahead of us my first thought was that it couldn’t possibly be Billy’s drive. I looked at Jay and said “Is that Billy’s drive?” He replied with a grin that yes, it was, and commented that “He hits it pretty far”. I paced it off from the 150 and walked up 70 yards until I got to his ball. My thought was “holy crap, are you kidding?” We played the round and Bill was syrupy smooth and incredibly long. I left thinking that he was a can’t miss Tour star, and his recent play has proven me right.