When he squatted behind his ball measuring a 14-foot birdie putt from off the green in the RSM Classic's first playoff hole, Charles Howell III could be seen muttering to himself. Indeed, that's not too strange. The golfers muttered to themselves all the time. But Howell's lips continued to move, almost as if he was trying to talk himself into victory. Heck, he tried almost everything. Why not self-hypnosis or incantation?
In the end, just playing better proved enough. Finally.
Howell overcame a terrible start and a history of his own disappointment, becoming the PGA Tour winner for the first time in more than 11 years by defeating Patrick Rodgers in the second additional hole on St Simons Island, Ga. Howell did not sink the putt in the first playoff hole, but he converted from 15 feet in seconds, and native Augusta, Ga., Won first place in the Masters since 2012.
"That was the first thing that came to my head," he admitted afterwards.
When the ball disappeared in the hole, Howell squatted, put his head in his hand and tried to hold back tears. Then he hugged his wife and two children. This ended a pleasant end on the 2018 official PGA Tour.
Howell left 4,291 days without victory until Sunday on Sea Island.
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If there ever was a player who could explain the victory on the tour, that was Howell, a boy who couldn't be missed with the precision of Iron Byron's swing which certainly didn't miss the richness of the tour, even because he didn't have the satisfaction of filling his trophy box.
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The victory not only ended the 11-year drought and nine months covering 333 starts and 4,291 days, but also eradicated a number of other frustrating trends. For starters, the win from wire to wire meant that for the first time in six trials he succeeded in changing the superiority of 54 holes. He also increased his record to 2-4 in the playoffs. And in his eight opening under 64 at Plantation Course, Howell for the first time in his career reached every fairway and every green.
It shouldn't be difficult for this former Oklahoma All-American State, an NCAA champion in 2000 who only needed 66 new players as pro players before he won his first title in the 2002 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill.
Of course, Sunday on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Resort, it might not start to get worse. Howell started with bogey and double bogey to lose leads, and all the way around, from the bunker installed at No. 9 to find a divot filled with sand on the fairway in the following hole, that is something for 39 veterans aged.
"The way I started today, I just honestly thought I was shooting myself in the foot again," Howell said. "I think that is enough. I have seen this film before."
This time, it ends differently.
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Howell birdie 10 holes from the divot, sinking 24-footers. Then he rolled three in a row starting on the 15th to draw even with Rodgers in 19-under 263. Another former All-American college from Stanford, Rodgers almost took off his incredible comeback, shooting 61-62 at the weekend after making a cut at number two below par. 123 His attempt to break the tour record for the lowest closing of 36 holes. Only Troy Matteson, who shot 122 at the 2009 Frys.com Open, has posted a lower score in successive rounds.
Webb Simpson champion had the chance to join the playoffs, but failed to make a 12-foot birdie in the end and settled for 65 and third place.
"To stay there, to play it, the way people play with me … I need luck on my part and fortunately have it," said Howell, who can put an end to regulatory affairs but watch 22-foot birdie efforts glide right in the last few turns.
"I think I have it in me, but I've never seen me do it to prove it to myself," Howell added. "It's like someone who thinks he can dunk, but if you can't dunk, you can't do it."
Howell poses with his wife, Heather, and their children, Chase and Ashley, after winning the RSM Classic.
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Rodgers, who had to accept his third runner-up finish, missed trying birdies from 21 feet in the first playoff hole and 23 feet in the second. "I struggled as hard as I could," said Rodgers who wore sunglasses. "I'm not really backing down. I remained aggressive and I made birdies until the finish. That is proof of how well Charles played. "
Besides the things he had to prove himself, Howell admitted he had another motivator.
"I don't want to hear it from my child," he explained. "My children are now in the age where they are. They like sports, they like golf and so on. They got what happened, that I had failed many times, so fortunately, it was different today. "
When Howell embraced his young son, the boy also had tears in his eyes. The boy left with the name Chase.
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