After String of Runner-Ups Howell Back on Top

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Nissan OpenLOS ANGELES -- Charles Howell III remembers the first time he stepped inside Tiger Woods' house. There was a TV in the living room, and a mantle above the fireplace with four silver trophies from the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
Howell only had a trophy from the Michelob Championship, a tournament that now exists on the LPGA Tour.
'He probably wondered what was wrong with me because I just sat there bit a mesmerized,' Howell said. 'Here you have it. You've got all four majors sitting right there.'
While the Nissan Open won't be mistaken for a claret jug, it felt like a major to Howell.
After going 4 1/2 years and 127 starts on the PGA TOUR without winning, Howell ended his drought with a playoff victory Sunday at Riviera that was surprising on two fronts -- the late fade by Phil Mickelson, and the clutch putts made by Howell.
Howell couldn't wait another day.
He was labeled a future star when he won the NCAA title at Oklahoma State in 2000, captured his first PGA TOUR event two years later at Kingsmill and made the Presidents Cup team the following year.
But something always kept him from winning. There were nine runner-up finishes since his only trophy, including two of them this year. His poor chip on the 18th hole in Honolulu cost him a chance, and he was beaten by Woods down the coast at Torrey Pines three weeks ago.
Howell was reminded of his shortcomings at every turn in the playoff, but he erased those memories by making the clutch putts, the big chip and the key pars.
When he tapped in the 3-footer to win, he closed his eyes and tilted his head to the skies, hugging caddie Jimmie Johnson. His voice cracked when asked to go over his emotions, and when he mentioned the support he got from his father, along with swing coach David Leadbetter and his staff.
'They never thought anything I was doing wasn't eventually going to pay off,' Howell said. 'It was never a point where we thought, 'This is no good, you've lost it,' or anything like that. This game can beat you up pretty good, and you see a lot of guys who never recover. I've got great people around me to help get me out of that.'
Now he back book a trip home to Augusta, Ga.
Howell's first goal at the start of the year was to get into the top 50 in the world ranking by the end of March to qualify for the Masters. Having ended last year at No. 82, his victory moved him up to No. 16, essentially securing a tee time at his favorite course.
He also hoisted another trophy, which was more important.
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  • Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

    Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.