Howell eyes end of summer drought in Detroit
June 28, 2019
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
Charles Howell's Round 2 highlights from Rocket Mortgage
DETROIT – It would seemingly qualify as minutia, a detail about Charles Howell’s remarkably consistent playing career on the PGA TOUR. Only when the man himself knows about it, is it really minutia?
“I’m aware of it. I am,” he said after shooting a 5-under 67 in Friday’s second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. It pushed Howell to 12-under 132, two off Nate Lashley’s 67 – 130, with Cameron Champ (65 – 131) sandwiched between.
That would certainly qualify as Howell being in contention for his second TOUR win of the year and yet another top 10, which is where the minutia enters the picture. Since 2012, Howell has piled up a whopping 34 top 10s – but only one of them has come in the summer months.
And since we’ve been roasting with sultry weather here at Detroit Golf Club on this first full week of summer, it was asked of Howell to explain that quirky piece of information. But he merely shook his head after a round in which he made three straight birdies on the front, then two in a row on the back to vault into third.
“I really don’t know why that is, but you know one thing great about turning 40?” said Howell, who reached that number on his recent birthday (June 20). “You stop worrying about things like that. It used to keep me up at night, I would grind over stuff like that.”
He had a sly smile on his face, apparently having some fun with the minutia, but it was all good. “I tried it all. I took more weeks off in the summer, I played more in the summer. One (summer) I actually tried having neck surgery.”
To no avail. His only summer top 10 since 2012 came two years ago when he lost in a playoff to Kyle Stanley at the Quicken Loans National.
Should things progress as they have the last two days, Howell knows he’s in position to derail that summer drought line of thinking. But he suggested he and the rest of the 71 players who made the cut at 5-under 139 will be greeted by a tougher test on the weekend.
“The scores are lower than I thought they would be from playing the practice days,” he said. “(But) the greens started to firm up a little bit (and if it doesn’t rain), I think you’ll see the balls bouncing on the greens tomorrow, especially in the afternoon.”
The field average for the first two days has been 70.161 and Lashley, who got in as an alternate, continued his torrid play with three birdies on each side, the only miscue coming at the par-3 11th when he came up just short with his 228-yard shot and couldn’t get it up-and-down.
He pretty much did everything else, though, even though he conceded he was nervous trying to back-up the first-round 63. The nerves stem from sitting 132nd on the FedExCup points list. “I need a good week to move up into the Top 125,” he said. “To do it this week comfortably would be great. To be able to kind of relax the last few events of the season would be really nice.”
Lashley knew Champ’s 13-under was the lead when he teed off late and he got within one with a 33 on the front. His bogey at 11 negated the birdie he had made at 10, but a birdie at the par-3 15th got him tied, then he made his fifth birdie of the tournament at a par-5, the 17th.
“If you hit fairways here, you can really score,” said Lashley, echoing a sentiment that has been shared by most of the competitors.
It was felt going into the competition that Detroit GC could be attacked, but the lack of wind and excessively warm temperatures have made it even more of a shoot-out. Howell, however, is playing in his 546th TOUR tournament (in comparison, this is Lashley’s 33rd and Champ’s 28th) and he’s what they say is “qualified” to offer perspective.
“(If it doesn’t rain), I think it’s going to change quite a lot,” said Howell. “The greens will start to get a little bit of that light-gray tint to them when the ball’s bouncing a bit. I think tomorrow afternoon it will be pretty firm.”
Summer weather, which could be Howell’s time of year this week.