SAN DIEGO – Charles Howell III has been burned by the 18th hole on Torrey Pines’ South Course before, so he was prepared.
“I was thinking about it before I even got to my ball,” admitted Howell, who ricocheted his approach shot into the closing hole off the flagstick and into Devlin’s Billabong for a bogey to finish runner-up to Tiger Woods at the 2005 Farmers Insurance Open.
So when Howell’s approach shot on Sunday into the 18th hole from 106 yards sailed over the flag he briefly exhaled, but as the ball inexplicably spun back down the slope and toward the famous water hazard his heart stopped, just like it did a decade ago.
On Sunday his ball stopped on the fringe and Howell two-putted for par to finish a stroke outside a playoff that was won by Jason Day.
“I don’t know how the ball spun that much,” said Howell, who has three top-5 finishes at Torrey Pines. “That hole has not been kind to me over the years.”