- Associated Press - Friday, September 7, 2012

CARMEL, IND. (AP) - Bill Haas is in position to do something even Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk haven’t _ making it back to the FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta a year after winning the playoffs.

Haas dug himself out of a big hole Friday, tying the Crooked Stick record with an 8-under 64 at the BMW Championship. He will go into Saturday’s third round four shots behind leader Singh, and most importantly, 27th in the points. The top 30 get to play for the $10 million prize.

Haas knows what’s at stake.

“If I have a good tournament this weekend, I get to play at East Lake and if I don’t, I don’t,” Haas said. “That’s just the way it is and I wish I could be that relaxed on the course about it, but I have to keep telling myself to just go play the game, let it come to me, and if it works out great. If not, it’s still been a good year.”

In the five years under this playoff format, no defending champ has made it back to Atlanta. Not Singh, not Furyk and not even Woods.

Furyk and Singh, the 2008 and 2010 winners, both failed to qualify.

Woods, who won in 2007 and 2009, missed the 2008 tournament because of an injury and the 2010 tourney because of personal turmoil.

On Thursday, it looked as if Haas might become the next victim of the FedEx jinx after shooting 71 on a day the rest of the field averaged 69.47.

By Friday morning, the 30-year-old player had forgotten all about his struggles and started playing the way he finished last season.

Haas birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 5 before making eagle on No. 9, a hole that set up his charge on the back side. He made four birdies on the first seven holes and finished with only one bogey, at No. 17, which cost him the outright course record.

“I knew after shooting 1 under, I was going to need a 7 or 8 under at least one day and maybe one other one just to stay with the guys in the lead,” he said.

Occasionally, he tried to sneak a peek to see the overall standings. At one point, the scoreboard at No. 18 even showed him in the most dreaded spot of all _ No. 31.

But when play ended, Haas had moved up four spots and was back in position to become the first defending champ to play in Atlanta.

“I think you can guess what it would mean,” he said. “It’s another week to play against the best players in the world, and I think it validates a good year. I won’t say it’s a bad year if I don’t make it, but I think making it in the top 30 is everybody’s goal at the beginning of the year.”

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