ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Notes and observations from the second round of The RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort’s Seaside and Plantation courses.
Charles Howell III has played more than 500 PGA TOUR events. He’s never lost his card in nearly two decades on TOUR. He’s earned more than $35 million. He’s finished worse than 70th in the FedExCup just four times.
His career has been a success according to multiple metrics. But he also knows what his resume lacks, the obvious criticism of an incredibly consistent career.
He’s won just twice. His last win was in 2007, before Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were in high school.
Howell has an opportunity to end his winless streak in the final event of 2018. He has a three-shot lead halfway through The RSM Classic after shooting back-to-back 64s. His 14-under 128 ties the best 36-hole start of his career and the tournament’s two-round scoring record.
Howell, 39, has a three-shot lead over 44-year-old Jason Gore, who is playing on a sponsor exemption, and 23-year-old rookie Cameron Champ. Gore got his insurance license last week. Champ won last month’s Sanderson Farms Championship and is in position to take the FedExCup lead into 2019.
Howell has yet to make a bogey despite cold, windy weather on Georgia’s Atlantic coast. He called these the best ball-striking rounds of his career.
“I’ve almost done everything in my career, but playing with a lead isn’t one thing I’ve really done a whole lot,” Howell said. “I could talk to you about finishing second or third a lot. As many golf tournaments as I’ve played, this is still relatively new for me.”
This is the eighth 36-hole lead of Howell’s career, and first since 2010.
He’s never won when leading after two rounds. He could be tough to catch if his strong ball-striking continues. He’s missed just two fairways and two greens this week.
“I don’t really get nervous,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll jump ahead of myself and I get a bit excited or try too hard at times.”
He’s made it look easy this week. Now comes the hard part.
Charles Howell III leads by three at The RSM Classic
AMATEUR HOUR: LSU freshman Garrett Barber is in 10th place after shooting 65 on Friday. Barber got into the field after winning this year’s Jones Cup. Past champions of that event include PGA TOUR players Beau Hossler, Corey Conners, Justin Thomas, John Peterson, Patrick Reed, Kyle Stanley and Luke List.
CLOSING LIKE A CHAMP: Champ birdied his final four holes to shoot 63 and move into contention at another PGA TOUR event. This is the 11th time in his past 14 rounds that he has ended the day in the top 10. He was in second place halfway through last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic after shooting 62. He closed with consecutive 69s to finish 10th. On Friday, he shot 63 to tie Jason Gore for the low round of the tournament. Champ also has opened a large lead in the Birdies Fore Love race, which goes to the player who has made the most birdies and eagles this fall. The winner of that competition, which concludes this week, will win $300,000 for charity. Champ has made 110 birdies and eagles this season, 11 more than J.J. Spaun.
LOTS OF LOVE: There will be two Loves at Sea Island this week after Davis Love III’s son, Dru, birdied two of his last three holes to make the cut on the number. Dru shot back-to-back 70s. His father is ahead of him by two shots. This is Dru’s third made cut in 14 starts.
Cameron Champ Round 2 highlights from The RSM Classic
I’m just an insurance salesman now.Early this morning, it was so cold out there. … The first few holes of the day, you’re just trying to survive.It’s hard not to feel comfortable around these two places.
Low round: Champ and Gore both shot 63 to move into second place at 11 under par. They both birdied Nos. 15-18 and shot 30 on the back nine.
Longest drive: Tom Lovelady hit a 339-yard drive on the eighth hole.
Longest putt: Blake Morris, a Monday qualifier, made a 58-foot putt Friday. He missed the cut by one shot.
Hardest hole: The 204-yard, par-3 third hole on the Seaside Course played to a 3.36 stroke average. Only 39 of 77 players hit the green Friday. There were just three birdies on the hole.
Easiest hole: The 555-yard, par-5 16th hole on the Plantation Course played to a 4.43 scoring average.
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the third round of The RSM Classic, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Davis Love III's 39-footer for birdie is the Shot of the Day