Howell continues solid play, pushing for Masters

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The year’s final PGA Tour stop is all about battles large and small, from those vying for their jobs next year in the Big Leagues to more subtle goals like Charles Howell III.

Following a relatively pedestrian season, Howell began the Fall Series 91st in earnings and just trying to build some momentum for 2013. Following solid finishes in his first two fall events (T-11 Frys.com Open and T-7 at the McGladrey Classic) Howell’s goals shifted dramatically.

As a result of his solid recent play, Howell moved up to 73rd in earnings and within reach of the top 30, which would land the Augusta, Ga., native a coveted exemption into next year’s Masters. It would be an unexpected Christmas present after he fell short of a top-16 finish this year at Augusta National, and a spot in the 2013 field, by one stroke.

“It would be a big bonus,” said Howell, who was 10 under through 16 holes and tied for the lead on Friday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic before bogeying his penultimate hole. “I wasn’t really even thinking about it a few weeks ago, but I can let myself think about it a little bit.”

Howell finished with a 67 on the Palm Course for an early tie for second and is currently projected at 59thon the money list.