It is a frequent topic in the head of Charles Howell III. The 22-year-old has come close to victory several times, reaching out for the prize only to watch it slip from his grasp.
The third round brought back winning memories and put Howell in position again to win his first PGA Tour event. His 7-under 28 on the front nine of Riviera Country Club put him to 10-under-par in the Nissan Open and four shots behind leader, Scott McCarron (65).
McCarron holed a 50-foot eagle putt on the 17th hole after reaching the green in two shots.
The greens are fantastic, McCarron said. Usually at Riviera they are soft and bumpy because of rain. But they are running fast and feel really good.
Another supporter of the putting surfaces is Len Mattiace (67). He is two strokes behind McCarron and made birdies from 30, 40 and 50 feet.
It was one of the best days Ive ever had on the putting green, McCarron said.
Overnight leader Toru Taniguchi is one off the lead after a 67.
Howell's 28 was the second on a nine this year on the PGA Tour. Brent Schwarzrock shot 8-under 28 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
There were many that thought Howell would have a bag full of trophies by now, but as he prepares to complete his 42nd tournament as a professional he has 18 top 10s, but no victories.
While most would obsess over that statistic, it barely registers to Howell, who has always concerned himself with his play.
Sure, it would be great to finally win one, Howell said. Winning, though is almost an accident.
Plus, Saturday, Howell had other pressing matters taking up space in his cranium. His friend Jesper Parnevik had given him a conundrum that Howell couldnt get out of his head.
It had to do with two men, two hotel rooms, two black boxes, two keys, one diamond and a thieving bell boy. Somehow the diamond has to get from man to man without the kleptomaniac bellboy stealing it.
The riddle served its purpose. It frustrated Howell to no end, because he couldnt solve it, but it also took his mind off of golf.
Its all I could think about, Howell said. I still havent figured it out.
Maybe Parnevik shouldnt tell him the answer. Howell spent the third round using Riviera as his own private parlor game, starting off eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie. By the time he got to 10 he was 7-under-par.
Ive never started off a tournament like that before, Howell said. It was important to me to get off to a good start, especially with how bad I played (Friday).
Bad for Howell is even par, so his 64 must have been spectacular.
It was a decent day, Howell said. I know that sounds crazy, but I should have birdied 11 and 17.
Instead he settled for pars on the par 5s, but did have two chip ins on the front nine.
Full-field scores from the Nissan Open