Howell Focuses on Lead Not Leaderboard

By Mercer BaggsFebruary 21, 2003, 5:00 pm
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. ' Charles Howell III doesnt like to leaderboard watch. But when he took a peak coming off the 18th green Friday at the Nissan Open, he found his name at the top.
Howell birdied his final two holes for a 6-under 65. He stands at 8-under-par 134, one shot clear of Nick Price, who chipped in from 90 feet for birdie at the last for a 67.
Defending champion Len Mattiace also had a 67 and is two back at 6-under.
Rich Beem is four off the pace after matching Howells 65. Overnight leader Fred Funk (74) made his way to 8-under, but played holes 12-15 in 5-over, to finish at minus-3.
Tiger Woods raced out of the gates Friday to threaten the lead, but limped home to find himself in basically the same position in which he started.
Beginning on the back nine, Woods was 5-under on the day over his first 10 holes. But following five straight pars, he ran into trouble down the stretch.
Woods blocked his tee shot on the par-4 seventh into the right rough. With his ball buried in the foot-long grass, he was unable to advance it more than three inches.
'If I made contact there, it would have been a task. I went ahead and swung as hard as I could and I went right underneath it,' Woods explained.
From roughly the same position, he then turned over his third shot 100 yards left into a fairway bunker. He finally reached the green on his fourth shot, and two-putted for double bogey.
That knocked Woods from 4-under -- and within two of the lead at the time -- to 2-under.
He recovered with a 25-foot birdie at the eighth, only to bogey the ninth after coming up short of the green with his approach from an awkward stance in the bunker.
I really played well all day, just made a bad swing on No. 7 and, unfortunately, it cost me a couple of shots, said Woods, who is seeking his first win in his sixth start as a professional at this event.
Im in a really good spot. Anyone under par has a real good chance to win this tournament.
That includes Tigers two-day playing companion, David Duval.
As he did in round one, Duval scrambled for an under-par score. He hit five of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 greens in regulation, but still managed a 1-under 70.
He chipped in for the third time in two days and needed only eight putts on the front nine, his back.
He stands alongside Stephen Ames (69), K.J. Choi (69), Duffy Waldorf (69) and Funk at 3-under-par 139.
I have managed to hang in there, said Duval, who withdrew from last years final round due to food poisoning.
Like Duval, Price has had his share of success from off the green. He twice chipped in for birdie in the second round, at the sixth and at the 18th.
I missed a few short putts on 15, 16, 17, so I guess it all evens out, he said.
Price has won 18 times in his 21-year PGA Tour career, but is looking to accomplish a pair of firsts this week.
I have never won on the west coast and I have never won on poa annua greens, so this is a good chance to kill two birds with one stone, he said.
Price will play alongside Mattiace and Howell in Saturdays final threesome. This will be nothing new for the 46-year-old Zimbabwean. He regularly plays practice rounds with Howell, and has watched him play for over a decade.
Ive known Charlie since he was 10, Price said. 'He was skinny and hit more balls than I have seen a kid do in my life. And he hasn't changed.'
Howell started the day four back of Funk, and remained there when he glanced at the leaderboard on the eighth hole.
Fred was at 8-under and I was at 4-under, he recalled.
Howell birdied No. 8 to get to 5-under. And as Funk was melting on the back, Howell was burning up the par-5s. He reached the 11th with his second shot and two-putted for birdie. He then got up and down for birdie at 17.
He concluded his day by hitting a sand wedge on the 451-yard closing hole to 12 feet for sole possession of the lead.
Howell said he has turned over a new leaf in 2003, opting not to keep track of where he stands in the tournament.
I dont think anything good comes of that, he explained. Until the last four holes on Sunday I dont think its important.
Related Links
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    McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

    By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

    One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

    McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

    It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

    McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

    Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

    Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

    Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

    The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

    The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

    Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

    The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

    A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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    Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

    Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

    Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

    South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

    Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

    The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



    Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

    By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

    It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

    Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

    Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

    "We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

    Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

    Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

    Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.