Tiger loss at Torrey still haunts Howell III
January 24, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Charles Howell III tied the low-round of the day on the South Course with a 6-under 66 in Round 1. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO – When Charles Howell III hits the iconic 18th hole at Torrey Pines South the bad memory comes flooding back … every single time.
Never mind that he’s 18 of 18 making cuts at the Farmers Insurance Open with eight top 10s and three runner up finishes.
Or that his 6-under 66 on Thursday was the equal low on the traditionally much tougher South Course to have him sit tied sixth.
For 14 years now the one bad memory – amongst a vast bank of good ones at the venue – takes over.
At the 2005 Farmers Insurance Open Howell III had a chance to win at the 18th before disaster struck.
In a weather interrupted week he had posted a third round 8-under 64 to move within one of the lead but with no repairing continued into his fourth round well ahead of other contenders.
The par-5 finishing hole beckoned with Howell sitting 1 under on his final round looking to post a score for the likes of Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman and Luke Donald to best.
Howell III had wedge in hand looking to dial in something close.
“It was 93 yards. I mean, give or take an inch. There hasn't been a time I haven't thought about it,” Howell III recalls of his third shot.
The ball sailed straight at the flag and cannoned into the hole on the fly, bouncing back out just as quickly and ricocheted into the billabong guarding the front of the green.
Instead of an eagle that would have seen him post 16 under, he settled for bogey and 13 under.
It meant a runner up behind Woods.
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“I know I would have lost that event, I get it. He would have done something, I just wanted to see what he would have done,” Howell III says now.
“But that makes me uncomfortable. That one got me because I think it flew in the hole.
“Then the fact that it's a yellow hazard, yellow penalty area, so I had to go back over it again. I haven't gotten over that, no, but every time I play that hole I think about it every time.”
But perhaps the three-time PGA TOUR winner will be able to let it go if he can leverage his opening round into the win he’s come so close to at the venue.
His lightning start on the South means he could really forge ahead on a North Course that played over two shots easier on Thursday and yielded a 10-under 62 from leader Jon Rahm.
The top five players on the leaderboard all played the North Course.
“This is a golf course that you just can't fall asleep on and you can't fall asleep on the North now, either,” Howell III warned.
“There's not really one hole out there where you can kind of start cruising through it. As the week goes on, scores tend to calm down, 10, 11, 12 under is right there come Sunday afternoon, I like that about it.
“It's hard but it's fair, there's no tricks to it, there's no gimmicks out there.”
For the record, Howell III birded the 18th on Thursday.
Howell's unlucky finish at Torrey Pines