Charles Howell III Snaps Eleven Year PGA Tour Drought
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
Another winning drought on the PGA Tour was broken this week as Charles Howell III won the RSM Classic in St. Simons Island, Georgia. It was the veteran players first win on the tour in eleven years. The winning putt came on the second hole of a playoff against Patrick Rodgers as daylight was starting to fade.
Last week it was Matt Kuchar who broke his winless streak of four years by winning the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico. Howell’s last win on the tour came in 2007 when he won the Nissan Open. His previous win was the 2002 Michelob Championship.
Howell entered the final round as the leader for three days. But, a series of bogeys early in the final round allowed Rodgers to battled back and force the playoff. Howell said he was worried he was about losing again after failing to put a Tour win away.
“The way I started today, I just honestly thought I shot myself in the foot again,” Howell said after a rough start to the morning. “I thought that was pretty much over. I had seen this movie before.”
This time it would be different as Howell would be the one to take advantage of a mistake by another player. After the two equal each other on the first hole of the playoff they again squared off for birdie attempts. Howell watched as Rodgers pushed his long 21-foot birdie putt past the hole. Howell lined up his putter, took the 15-foot shot and watched his ball roll in for birdie and the win by one stroke.
The player sometimes known as CH3 dropped to a squatting position as the crowd cheered and buried his head in his hands in obvious relief. After a few moments, he stood to embrace his caddie and shake hands with Rodgers. Soon he was greeted by his wife Heather and two children. Before fielding questions from the media. One of the first questions was about his hometown tournament, The Masters, was on his mind.
“That was the first thing that popped into my head,” Howell stated following the win. ''Obviously, it means a lot to me being from Augusta - but it means a lot to every player, right? Every golfer in the world knows what the Masters is so I'm nothing special on that. But that tournament, that atmosphere, just everything ... it's tough at home to sit back and watch that on television.”
Rodgers Played Amazing Golf as Well
Howell may have won the RSM Classic but Rodgers was spectacular to watch as well. Rodgers went 17-under and 123 weekend and finished a tournament event in sole second place for the third time in four seasons. This weekend he was one stroke away from Troy Matteson's PGA Tour record for consecutive rounds of 122 which Matteson set in 2009.
Both Rodgers and Howell finished the event at 19-under and 263 overall for the tournament. But, after the cut, Rodgers posted a 61 on Saturday and 62 on Sunday which forced the playoff. The 26-year-old golfer, who played his college golf at Stanford where he broke Tiger Woods scoring record, said he fought hard for the win.
“I fought as hard as I could,” said Rodgers. “I didn't really back down. I stayed aggressive and I made birdies all the way to the finish. It's a testament to how well Charles played.”
The playoff between Howell and Rodgers could have included a third player. Webb Simpson was riding with the two leaders shot by shot but missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole. The player who entered the tournament as one of the favorites carded a 65 on the day to finish fourth. Simpson’s last playoff at the RSM Classic came in 2011 when he lost in extra holes to Ben Crane.
Rookie Cameron Champ was the tournament leader briefly when Howell went bogey and double-bogey to start the day. Champ stayed with the three leaders in a four-way tie before falling back to a disappointing finish of sixth going 69 on the day and 16-under for the event.