Charles Howell III shot a final-round 64 to finish 16 under par, and he currently sits in a tie for fifth.
Howell earned a spot in the British Open last week as the highest non-qualifier at the AT&T National at Aronimink, he shot a final-round 66 to move into a tie for third behind Nick Watney and K.J. Choi, who were already qualified for the event.
"I played there at St. George's in '03, and it's an interesting golf course," Howell said. "I remember a lot of it, and it was my first Open, so it's a place that's special to me, and I'm actually quite looking forward to going back."
Howell also said he was glad he played this week, even though British Open conditions will be vastly different.
"No matter where the event is, I'd rather be playing going into one as opposed to sitting there thinking about it," Howell said.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
A few weeks ago, Charles Howell III became the latest player to switch to a belly putter. The decision seems to be paying dividends.
Howell tied for third in each of his last two starts, and Thursday he opened with a 5-under 66 at TPC Deere Run that included three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 17th.
“Putting's better,” Howell said. “I guess they're not for everybody and whatnot. I never thought I'd use one, but it's helped.”
So did an early tee time in the opening round.
Perfect conditions made for good scoring for Howell and others.
“It was nice to get nine holes of perfect green, not that the greens are bad by any stretch, but no spike marks, no anything,” Howell said. “And then we didn't have very much wind till the end. This golf course does give up some birdies and low scores, but it was awful nice to be out first.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
The final pairing at the AT&T National on Sunday had a distinct Presidents Cup flavor.
Two players who are expected to play prominent roles on opposite sides in the biennial competition at Royal Melbourne in November -- America's Nick Watney and K.J. Choi of South Korea -- did battle down the stretch at Aronomink COuntry Club.
Watney ended up winning for the second time this season, beating Choi by two strokes in a spirited duel. Watney moved from fifth to third in the U.S. Team standings while Choi maintained his hold on No. 3 on the International side.
The Presidents Cup, where he will play for Fred Couples, will be the first international team competition for Watney, who now has four PGA TOUR victories. For his efforts on Sunday, the lanky Californian was also rewarded with the lead in the FedExCup standings.
Choi, who set the Aronomink course record in the second round only to see Watney eclipse it a day later, was bidding for the ninth win of his TOUR career. He beat another U.S. Team hopeful, eighth-ranked David Toms, in a playoff at TPC Sawgrass in May to win THE PLAYERS Championship.
The third member of the final draw at Aronomink, Rickie Fowler, couldn't keep pace with his two playing partners on Sunday. The exciting youngster from Oklahoma State ended up in a tie for 13th but still managed to move two spots to No. 21 as he tries to make his first U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Two of the biggest movers on Sunday were Charles Howell III and fellow American Jeff Overton, who tied for third with Australian Adam Scott. Howell moved from 35th to 29th in the standings while Overton jumped four spots to No. 20.
Scott ranks a solid fourth in the International Team standings. He's an International mainstay after being a member of the last four times, and he'll be looking forward to competing for his childhood hero, Norman, for the second time, and the first before a home crowd.
Another Aussie veteran, Robert Allenby, inched his way closer to being one of the 10 automatic qualifiers when he tied for sixth at Aronomink. Allenby, who has played in five previous Presidents Cups, now ranks 11th.
Once the 10 automatic qualifiers are finalized at the end of the BMW Championship, which is the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup, each captain will complete his team with two picks. Those picks will be made on Monday, Sept. 26.
The Presidents Cup will be played Nov. 14-20 at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. Australian Jason Day and American Matt Kuchar lead their respective standings.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- This is the final week of the mini-money list for players otherwise not eligible to get into the British Open (though the top finisher among the top 5 here and next week otherwise not eligible would also get in). The two players topping that list are Fredrik Jacobson with more than $1.2 million and Harrison Frazar with just over $1 million. Jacobson isn’t in the field and Frazar missed the cut.
Both Jacobson and Frazar are likely safe, however.
Paul Goydos, third on that list with $646,000, made the cut, but he entered the final round in last place so he won’t be moving up. Likewise, Kevin Chappell is too far back on the leaderboard to move up. Webb Simpson, Charles Howell III and Robert Garrigus, however, all still have a chance at getting into the British Open this week.
Simpson is tied for fourth entering the final round and if he can stay in the top 5, he’ll be headed to Royal St. George’s. Howell, meanwhile, is tied for 13th, while Garrigus began the final round tied for 27th.
They only way Frazar could be bumped from the mini money list is if Simpson, Howell or Garrigus wins -- a victory by any of them would put them atop the list and Jacobson would move to second. If one of them wins and one or both of the other two finishes in the top 5, then whoever of those two finished higher would also go.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- The U.S. Open was two weeks ago, but Aronimink Golf Club is playing an awful lot like a major championship venue at this week’s AT&T National.
The rough is up, the scores are down and there’s a premium on par.
Not that this is an unfamiliar theme here. Last year, Aronimink was the fourth-toughest course on the PGA TOUR and second most-difficult non-major venue.
Of course, Aronimink has hosted a major championship before -- the 1962 PGA Championship -- and there’s been talk of it getting another.
“Not much needs to be done to the golf course to hold a major championship here,” said Rickie Fowler, who is 3 under through two rounds following a 69 Friday. “You move a couple of tees back, pinch some fairways, grow the rough a little and this place could be near impossible.”
Case in point: On the par-3 14th, Fowler hit what he thought was a perfect 6-iron to a pin that’s tucked just over a bunker. The ball landed just left of the hole and bounded into the rough. He wasn’t able to get up-and-down and made bogey.
On that same hole, Nick O’Hern took a safer approach and hit his tee shot to the middle of the green. He three-putted for bogey on the undulating green.
Charles Howell III put himself in contention with a 68 Friday, but his round wasn’t without its pitfalls -- he had five birdies and three bogeys.
“It's so hard to get close to these pins,” Howell said. “They're on the edges of the slopes, and the greens look big but there's so much slope in them, it's actually quite hard to get the ball close.
“I think it'll start getting a little bouncier, a little firmer. I think as it dries out ‑‑ par is a heck of a score.”
Chris Riley shot 66 and needed just 24 putts, but even he found conditions similar to that of a major.
“If the greens got any faster they would be kind of unplayable,” Riley said.
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- The second round is under way at Aronimink, where the scoring isn’t any easier than it was in the first round when the scoring average was 1 1/2 strokes over par.
A couple of players, specifically Charles Howell III and Bryce Molder, have been able to make some headway, though. Both are 3 under for the day -- through 14 and nine holes, respectively -- with Howell in the lead at 5 under and Molder a shot back.
Rickie Fowler had the lead at 5 under himself earlier, but back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 have dropped him back to 3 under with six others.
As well as the two leaders have played this week at TPC Southwind, Charless Howell III has them beat -- at least in terms of not making bogey.
The last bogey for Howell, who is 8 under and six shots back, came 57 holes ago on the par-3 14th hole in the opening round.
Since that bogey, Howell is 12 under with two holes remaining in his final round.
The top three names on the leaderboard entering today’s final round have all of 62 combined starts on the PGA TOUR.
Charles Howell III and Pat Perez, both of whom are tied for fifth, have 83 combined top-10s.
In other words, it’s youth vs. experience at TPC San Antonio, where Brendan Steele leads at 7 under and Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell are one and two shots back, respectively.
The good news for that trio is that players in their 20s have won three of the last four events and four of the last six. The last player in his 30s to win? Rory Sabbatini at The Honda Classic.
Tringale (23) and Chappell (24) would be the youngest players to win on TOUR since Jason Day (22) won the HP Byron Nelson Championship last May.
And if rookies Chappell or Steele go on to victory it would mark the first time rookies have won back-to-back events on TOUR since 2002 when Jonathan Byrd won the Buick Challenge and Luke Donald won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
Brandt Snedeker, Pat Perez, Charles Howell III, Adam Scott, Charley Hoffman and Rich Beem have all won on the PGA TOUR. Brendan Steele, Cameron Tringale and Kevin Chappell haven’t.
That’s the separation at the top of the leaderboard at TPC San Antonio, where Steele is in front by one at 7 under after a 68 Saturday.
The biggest difference between the second and third rounds was the wind. Friday it blew, Saturday, for the most part, it didn’t. That allowed for some good scoring, though it’s still somewhat crowded with eight players within four shots of Steele’s lead.
That of course includes the defending champion Scott, who is on a run of three straight finishes in the top 6, which includes of course his tie for second at the Masters last week.
So what will happen on Sunday?
The wind is expected to blow in the 25-mph range. That could mean more high scores -- and an advantage to Scott, an Aussie who of course is used to playing in the wind. Stay tuned.
Charles Howell III will enter the final round in contention after a 4-under 68 Saturday. Not that he’ll necessarily be comfortable.
“It's more about surviving the thing,” Howell said. “Par is a heck of a score. Post a few birdies, great. It will be a tough test at the end.”
The reason Howell is in the position he’s in is because he strung together four straight birdies on Nos. 11 through 14 on Saturday.
“I really wasn't expecting that,” Howell said. “This golf course is hard. I thought it was hard since the first time I saw it on Tuesday and if you play one round out here making four birdies, I don't care where they are, you've done something good.”
One of the big things Howell did well was hit it well with his irons and roll it well with the putter -- he hit 13 greens in regulation and took 27 putts.
For a guy who played collegiately at Oklahoma State, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Howell has a chance to win in Texas.
Not that playing TPC San Antonio on even a calmer day like Saturday is much easier than playing it when the wind is howling.
“There's trouble on both sides of every hole. So the low ball guys are liking this week a little better,” Howell said. “I think on a calm day this golf course is difficult and in the wind just makes it that much more. It keeps you on your toes every shot.
“I kept the ball in play which is, number one, important. I got the ball on the right shelf on the greens. The greens have so many little humps and knobs. I got on right shelf and got decent putts at it.”
And a decent shot at winning, too.