The 23-year-old won for the first time on Tour, capturing the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill. Traditionally at this event, the champion drinks a celebratory Anheuser Busch product on the 18th green during the awards ceremony. First, Howell was presented the trophy, then the check and then an ice-cold bottle of brew.
Young Charles - a self-described 'geek,' growing up in Georgia - had never had a beer in his life. Never, not even a sip. After much prodding from a crowd filled with Michelob devotees, Howell gave in. The resulting expression on his alcohol-virgin face should dissuade millions of young golf fans from ever even thinking of drinking a beer. Call it Howell's first Public Service Announcement.
Much to the horror of the dozens of Anheuser Busch executives gathered greenside, the repulsed Charles then grabbed a microphone and announced, 'I sure wasn't missing much.' It was an ironically appropriate ending to the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill, which disappears from the PGA Tour schedule after a 22-year run.
One would think there would be many more opportunities for Howell to toast victories. The young man has now accomplished what most pundits predicted as inevitable. Charles had done everything else. He earned his tour card last year playing with just sponsors' exemptions. He turned those opportunities into a million-dollar season that earned him Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, with this win, Howell has earned $1,928,647 and launched himself into the top 20 on this year's money list. He appears headed to the elite Tour Championship at season's end. His two-year total of $3,449,279 is the most money ever earned by a player in his first two tour campaigns (even more than Tiger). Charles also seems sure to pass Tiger in the record books with the most lucrative second year on tour (he trails Woods' record by $138,186).
Woods is mentioned as comparison for a reason. Ever since Howell was spotted crushing the ball as a skinny kid in Augusta, Ga., he has been touted as 'the next Tiger challenger.' Charles doesn't shy from the thought. 'If I were able to challenge Tiger, obviously in the years to come and all that,' he said, 'I can't imagine something more fun to do and more exciting every single week.'
Even though he weighs all of 152 pounds, Howell won at Kingsmill in very Tiger-like fashion. He overpowered the course. The par-71 track has three par-5s. For the week, Charles played those 12 holes at 11-under-par. That's 11 of his 14-under winning total.
On Sunday, when he started the day three strokes out of the lead, Howell went birdie, eagle, birdie on the three 5s. On the 516-yard seventh hole, Charles hit driver, 9-iron on his way to eagle. That's right - a 9-iron for his second shot to a par-5 sound like anyone else you know?
Howell's birdie on the par-5 15th gave him the lead for good. Oh, by the way, Charles hit a 3-wood off that tee and then hit a 250-yard 3-iron over the green. A most Tiger-like performance.
The skinny kid with a heavyweight's power is second on tour in the total-driving statistic to just one man - Woods.
The most intriguing match-up between Woods and Howell will most likely come in Augusta - at the major championship that Tiger dominates - in the town where Charles grew up.
Howell may have a secret weapon with him next April at the Masters. Just two months ago, he hooked up with a new caddie, Brendan McCartain. Brendan has been caddying here and in Europe for nine years. Three years ago, he was on the bag of Jose Maria Olazabal when the Spaniard won his second Masters.
Asked if he was eager to team with Howell at the next Masters, a wide smile of anticipation spread across his face and McCartain said, 'That could be fun.'
Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech
INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas matched the Brickyard Crossing record with a 10-under 62 on Thursday in the Indy Women in Tech Championship, making birdie on the final three holes for a two-stroke lead over fast-starting Angel Yin and Japan's Nasa Hataoka.
Yin birdied eight of the first nine holes in her morning round for a front-nine 8-under 28 - one short of the LPGA Tour's nine-hole record. It matched the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.
Salas eagled the par-5 second in the afternoon and added three straight birdies on Nos. 4-6. She birdied Nos. 12 and 14 before reeling off three more in a row to close, waiting out a late 77-minute suspension for an approaching storm.
Salas matched the course record set by Mike McCullough in the PGA Tour Champions' 1999 Comfort Classic.
Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters
GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.
Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''
The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.
Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.
Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.
Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals
After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.
Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.
But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.
Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."
The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.
Lyle honored with sand sculpture at Wyndham
Jarrod Lyle passed away last week at the age of 36 after losing his third battle with cancer.
And after a PGA Championship filled with tributes to the Australian, the Wyndham Championship found its own way to keep his legacy alive at the North Carolina Tour stop.
Next to the Wyndham Championship and PGA Tour logos carved into the sand on site at Sedgefield Country Club is Lyle's name and the "Leuk the Duck" mascot. The duck has become synonymous with Challenge, an organization that supports kids with cancer.
Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby posted the display on social media:
Lyle was also remembered in a more traditional manner on the first tee, where his bag and trademark yellow bucket hat were prominently displayed.