Happy to be Home Howell Looking for More

By Associated PressApril 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Charles Howell III once had a Christmas tradition like no other.
 
He always spends the holidays at home with his parents in Augusta, and for the last five years, once he received his official invitation to the Masters, he would play a practice round at Augusta National.
 
But not this year.
 
Charles Howell III
Charles Howell shows his disappointment in last year's Masters debacle. (WireImage)
'I wasn't in the tournament,' Howell said Monday. 'And I'm not a member.'
 
His last memory of the Masters had been that 84 he shot in the second round. After opening with an 80, that put him in last place, one shot worse than 68-year-old Charles Coody. Worse yet, there was no guarantee when Howell might return.
 
He had his worst year on the PGA TOUR -- two runner-up finishes, but only 52nd on the money list -- and tumbled to No. 82 in the world. The top 50 get into the Masters, so he had only three months to move up 32 spots.
 
Howell did that, and much more.
 
After finishing second to Paul Goydos in the Sony Open and to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, he was headed for another runner-up finish at Riviera until Phil Mickelson made bogey on the 72nd hole, and Howell beat him on the third playoff hole.
 
'I needed to win a tournament to feel as I do now,' Howell said.
 
The feeling is one of confidence, even as he comes home for his sixth appearance in a major that hasn't shown him much love. Howell is No. 15 in the world ranking, and considered one of the favorites to challenge Woods and Mickelson's recent reign at the Masters.
 
There is a different look this year to the 27-year-old Howell.
 
A week after beating Mickelson at the Nissan Open, he overwhelmed Sergio Garcia in the second round of the Accenture Match Play Championship in an intriguing match of youth. It wasn't so much the variety of shots that drew attention to Howell, it was seriousness in which he went about his business that day.
 
'He's got an edge to him this year,' caddie Jimmie Johnson said.
 
Now it's a matter of taking that attitude and his game to an Augusta National course where Howell has never broken 70 in competition and has never finished in the top 10.
 
Then again, he has never felt more equipped.
 
Howell played his first practice round Wednesday with Kevin Smeltz, an instructor from David Leadbetter's stable of swing coaches. He played nine holes Sunday, nine more Monday on a warm, breezy day that continued to add firmness to the course.
 
There's no need to overdo it.
 
'I'm one of the lucky few that can say I've played here a lot,' Howell said. 'I know the golf course. And at the end of the day, it just boils down to do you hit the shots and do you make the putts.'
 
Mickelson, the defending champion, stayed off campus on Monday and Woods played early before spending time on the putting greens. Everyone would like to see the Masters firm and fast, which it hasn't been since the course started growing the last five years with length that now stretches it to 7,445 yards.
 
For some, it's still a beast.
 
Scott Verplank was at his locker Monday afternoon when Paul Goydos walked by and asked him what club he hit into ...
 
Verplank didn't give him a chance to say which hole.
 
'A wood,' he said.
 
Power has never been a problem for Howell, rather the shotmaking and putting. He still defends his decision to rely so much on mechanical training aids and videos, although he concedes he has chased the perfect swing for too long.
 
Success in the spring comes from hours he spent last fall on his putting, rarely working without a coach at his swing to make sure he didn't fall into any bad habits. And he tried to develop more shots.
 
'I wanted to have a perfect-looking golf swing, and I wanted to have the mechanics and technical aspects of it perfect,' Howell said. 'And I think I sort of got bogged down a little it, as opposed to, 'Let's work on our golf swing and make it better, but let's also find a way to score and win this game.'
 
'Because at the end of the day, the lowest score wins, not the prettiest golf swing,' he said. 'I think it's taken me a long time to grow up and learn those things.'
 
The next trick will be controlling his level of expectations.
 
The Masters means more to Howell than any other major simple because he grew up a 10-minute drive from the club and was inspired to take golf seriously after attending his first tournament in 1987.
 
'Some guy from Augusta won that year,' he said with a laugh.
 
That was Larry Mize and his improbable chip from 70 feet that dropped for birdie on No. 11, the second playoff hole, allowing him to beat Greg Norman and Seve Ballesteros.
 
'That was a big part of my growing up, to see a guy from Augusta that won the Masters right here in my backyard,' Howell said. 'I don't think I knew how difficult then this tournament was to win. But I do now.'
 
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    Koepka: Second-place finishes becoming 'annoying'

    By Al TaysMay 28, 2018, 12:02 am

    Brooks Koepka didn't go down without a fight.

    Trailing Justin Rose by four shots going into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational, Koepka shot his second 7-under 63 of the week - and made up precisely one shot. He finished solo second at 17 under par, three shots behind Rose.

    He could only marvel at the Englishman's performance in closing with a 6-under 64.

    "It was pretty impressive," he said. "Justin played well. Hat's off to him. Any time you can come into a lead with four shots and play the way he did today, that's impressive."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Although Koepka was pleased with his own play - especially his putting - he said it felt "annoying" to come in second. Again.

    "I feel like we've had so many second-place finishes," he said. "Always seem to run into a buzz saw, whatever it is."

    Since May of 2016, Koepka has five solo second-place finishes and one T-2. But he also has a U.S. Open title, won last year at Erin Hills. He'll attempt to defend that title June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills. "It's nice to finally be playing well and get going into the season," he said. "Kind of peaking right where I need to be."

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    Minjee Lee birdies 18 to win on her birthday

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:59 pm

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Minjee Lee's task was simple: A birdie on No. 18 would win her the tournament. It was a manageable par 5, the easiest hole on the course in the final round.

    After a good drive, her second shot came closer to trouble than much of the gallery probably realized.

    ''I almost clipped the tree,'' Lee said. ''I overcut it a little bit, but it finished out in a good position.''

    Lee's shot came to rest just to the right of the green, and from there it was a simple chip and putt for the birdie that gave her a one-stroke win over In-Kyung Kim at the LPGA Volvik Championship on Sunday. Lee, who turned 22 on Sunday, won for the first time since 2016. It was the Australian's fourth career victory.

    Lee three-putted for a bogey on No. 17, dropping into a tie with Kim, who finished her round about the same time. So Lee needed a birdie to win on 18. The 18th hole was 470 yards Sunday. There were 44 birdies there in the final round.


    Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


    ''The tee was up,'' she said. ''I was pretty confident that I could get there in two if I had a good drive.''

    Lee made her winning putt from about 3 feet. She finished at 4-under 68 and 16 under for the tournament. Kim (67) shot a 32 on the back nine and birdied No. 18, but it wasn't enough to force a playoff at Travis Pointe Country Club.

    ''I kind of knew that 16 was the number and I mean, I give my best,'' Kim said. ''I make some good shots and birdies.''

    Moriya Jutanugarn (65) finished third at 14 under.

    Lee took a two-stroke lead into the final round, and that was her margin over playing partner Stacy Lewis before Lewis (71) bogeyed No. 7 and 8. Kim emerged as the biggest threat to Lee when she birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine. Lewis is playing four months' pregnant with her first child.

    Kim and Lee were briefly tied at 15 under, but then Lee made a tap-in birdie on the par-5 14th, while Kim bogeyed 15. Lee saved par on 15 despite a wayward drive into a bunker.

    ''I wasn't sure where I was score-wise then. That par 5 is reachable in two, so I think a lot of people would have made birdie there,'' Lee said. ''The next tee shot I just pulled into the bunker. ... I think that was really important for me to hole that par putt just to keep the momentum going.''

    Lee had gone 38 consecutive holes without a bogey before making one on the par-4 17th. That, combined with Kim's birdie on 18, left the two golfers tied, but Lee still had the 18th to come.

    Su Oh (68) and Lindy Duncan (69) finished at 13 under, and Megan Khang (67) was another stroke back. Lewis finished at 11 under along with Ariya Jutanugarn (69) and Danielle Kang (70).

    Lewis birdied three of the first six holes, but Lee did as well.

    ''It's hard to get close when somebody does that,'' Lewis said. ''She played great all day and played solid. When she needed to make a par putt, she did, and didn't make any mistakes.''

    Lee lost this event by one stroke last year. Shanshan Feng, the 2017 winner , finished tied for 21st this time.

    The LPGA has had a different winner in each of its 13 tournaments this year. The U.S. Women's Open starts Thursday at Shoal Creek.

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    Spieth: Improvement is 'right around the corner'

    By Al TaysMay 27, 2018, 10:50 pm

    Not that Dallas native Jordan Spieth didn't enjoy the two-week home game that is the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational - he certainly did. But he's eager to get out of town, too.

    "It was a great showing these last couple weeks by the fans," Spieth said after closing with a 2-under 68, a 5-under total and a T-32 finish. "Obviously extremely appreciative here in DFW. Wish I could do more. These couple weeks can be a bit taxing, and it's awesome to kind of have that support to carry you through.

    "So, you know, I had a great time these couple weeks on and off the golf course as I always do, but I'm also really excited to kind of get out of town and kind of be able to just go back to the room and have nothing to do at night except for get ready to play the next day."


    Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

    Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


    Spieth will have that experience this coming week in Dublin, Ohio, site of the Memorial. He's hopeful of improving on his T-21, T-32 finishes the past two weeks, and he thinks the main thing holding him back - his putting - is ready for a turnaround.

    "I think good things are about to come," he said. "I feel a good run coming for the second half of the season. Today was - each day I've felt better and better with the wedges and the putter and the short game; today was no different. My only bogey being just kind of trying to do too much on a par-5; 3-wood into the hazard.

    "So, you know, I'm getting into where I'm not making bogeys, and then soon - the not making bogeys is great, and soon I'll get back to the five, six birdies around and shoot some low rounds.

    "So I know it's right around the corner."

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    Broadhurst fires 63 to easily win Senior PGA

    By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:45 pm

    BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Paul Broadhurst wishes he had played this well in his 23 years on the European Tour.

    ''I know a lot more about my swing now and I guess you get that with age and experience,'' the 52-year-old Englishman said after shooting an 8-under 63 on Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship by four strokes and match the best 72-hole score in tournament history.

    Broadhurst finished at 19-under 265 at Harbor Shores for his second senior major victory. The 63 was the best fourth-round score by a winner. Rocco Mediate also shot 19 under at Harbor Shores in 2016.

    Also the 2016 British Senior Open winner, Broadhurst led the field with 26 birdies and passed third-round co-leaders Tim Petrovic and Mark McCarron with a 4-under 31 on the back nine.

    Petrovic was second after a 69. McCarron had a 70 to tie for third at 14 under with Jerry Kelly (65).


    Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


    Broadhurst earned a career-high $585,000 for his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory and moved to the top of the money list. He won six times on the European Tour, was a 1991 Ryder Cup player for Europe and has three European Senior Tour victories.

    ''It was really a special week,'' he said. ''It got a little bit tense out there. I knew I was playing well but I didn't seem to making any progress against Tim Petrovic. He was side-by-side on the back nine it seemed.''

    He learned his lead was three strokes standing on the 18th tee when his caddie asked a television announcer.

    ''So we put my driver away and reached for the rescue club,'' he said. ''If I made a 5 there that would be fine.''

    Broadhurst started the round two strokes behind Petrovic and McCarron, birdied the first hole and was tied with Petrovic for the lead by the turn. He took his first lead with a birdie on the 12th hole, led by two after 16 and birdied the final two holes, including a dramatic 40-foot putt for birdie at the 18th hole.

    ''I guess it would have been a bit of anti-climax if I would have three-putted the last green, but that would have given Tim a chance of holing his second shot,'' he said. ''I actually spoke to my caddie about that going down the last - we don't want to three-putt and five him the opportunity because stranger things have happened in golf. To see it go in the middle of the hole was just a special feeling.''

    Petrovic said missed birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 8 were costly, but it might not have mattered with the way Broadhurst was playing.

    ''In hindsight it was all for naught,'' he said. ''He was so far ahead of us. Hat's off the guy. It was a great week - we just got beat. When he made the putt on 18 ahead of us I almost started clapping in the fairway and waving a white towel. It was well-deserved. That was great playing. He won the championship for sure.''

    Broadhurst shot 72 in the first round, started rolling in putts with a 66 in the second round and was 15 under on the weekend. In addition to the leading 26 birdies, he topped the putts per greens in regulations numbers for the tournament as well with a 1.574 average.

    ''I wasn't aware I made that many birdies,'' he said. ''That's pretty impressive around this course.''

    He said his game has long been unpredictable.

    ''I'm not blessed with a consistent swing like Bernhard Langer, but when it's on, it works,'' he said. ''If I'm putting well, then anything can happen, really.''