Patience Pays for Howell at Tour Championship

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ATLANTA ' Patience and caution were paramount under trying conditions Friday in The Tour Championship.
 
Yet, its a 23-year-old tour sophomore who leads after two rounds.
 
Charles Howell III parred his final eight holes at the East Lake Golf Club for a 1-under 69. He stands at 5-under-par 135 entering the weekend, one shot ahead of four players.
 
'It reminded me a lot of the Saturday round up at Kingsmill when I didn't hit the ball very well that day and was able to get up-and-down a lot and hang in there,' said Howell, who earned his first tour win three starts ago at the Michelob Championship.
 
David Toms (66) and Len Mattiace (68) share second place with overnight leaders Steve Lowery (71) and Vijay Singh (71).
 
Mattiace shared the lead until the last. After hitting his tee shot on the 232-yard, par-3 18th into the right bunker, he thinned his second shot over the green. The ball bounced off a corporate tent and came racing back to him. It rolled through the green and came to a rest some 30 yards from the hole. He then pitched to four feet and made bogey.
 
Once you see the ball go over the green, you know that now its impossible. In a way, I got very lucky that the ball hit the ' whatever, and came bounding backwards. Because if it stayed over the greenI would have had an impossible shot, Mattiace explained.
 
For the second straight day, officials implemented lift, clean and place rules due to the soggy fairways. But a combination of natural and manufactured elements kept players from abusing that condition.
 
When its windy like this, its really hard to go low, said Tiger Woods. Its stronger now, definitely.
 
Coming off his first over-par round since his 81 at the British Open, Woods made five birdies and three bogeys Friday to move to 1-under-par for the tournament. His 2-under 68 was good enough to shave two strokes off his overnight deficit.
 
I wanted to get under par today and I was able to accomplish that, he said.
 
Aside from the wind drying out the greens and creating a trickier surface ' wickedly quick, according to Woods ' Tiger said there was another reason no one was able to distance their self.
 
Its the pin locations. They are making it tough because we are able to have the ball in hand, he noted. In conditions like this, you are not going to try to take chances. You are going to dump it in the middle of the greens, two-putt and move on.Howell did that for the most part on the back nine. He hit his final six greens, and two-putted them all. For the day, he made three birdies and two bogeys. Both dropped shots, however, came after hitting the fairways at 5 and 10, and missing both greens with a wedge in hand.
 
Those two holes there kind of hurt, he acknowledged. If I make two pars there, Im 7-under, which looks a little bit different than 5 (under).
 
Howell admitted his was happy to be leading the tournament, but wasnt pleased with his second-round score.
 
I left a few out there where I shouldnt have. I was able to drive it in the fairway enough where I should have taken better advantage of a few of those holes, he said. Obviously, at the beginning of the day I would have been happy with a 69, but from how I drove it, it was decent.
 
Aside from the similarities Howell sees in his third round at the Michelob and the one he had this Friday, he sees a likeness in the two tournaments on the whole.
 
Going into this week, I never thought about winning it, he said. Same as the Michelob. I didnt tee off on Thursday thinking, hey, Im going to win this golf tournament.
 
In the past Ive struggled from actually getting too far ahead of myself and maybe thinking about winning or thinking about something that I shouldnt be thinking about that was going to happen one, two or three days ahead of myself.
 
Its not that Im not trying to win, I dont expect to win; its that I find more importance in the shot ahead of me versus a result.
 
Hes now put himself into a position where he can start thinking about the end result.
 
Full-field scores from The Tour Championship