Howell III closed out week at Sea Island on top
The 39-year-old held on in a playoff on Sunday to win The RSM Classic
November 18, 2018
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Charles Howell III wins in playoff at The RSM Classic
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Notes and observations from the final round of The RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort’s Seaside Course.
Charles Howell led the entire week at Sea Island Resort, but he still needed a strong finish to earn his third PGA TOUR title.
Howell birdied three of his final four holes to tie Patrick Rodgers, then won with a birdie on the second playoff hole. Howell, who started the day with a one-shot lead, converted a 54-hole lead for the first time in his career. He shot 31 on the back nine Sunday to do it.
“I thought I had it in me, but I had never seen me do it to prove it to myself,” said Howell, who finished at 19-under 267 (64-64-68-67). “It’s kind of like the guy who thinks he can dunk, bud if you can’t dunk, you just can’t do it.
“I thought I had it in me but it took me a bit to actually do it.”
This is Howell’s third PGA TOUR win and first since 2007. It came in his 529th start. Only two players needed more starts to reach their third TOUR win. He has 16 runner-up finishes in his career.
Howell will start the New Year as the FedExCup leader after winning the RSM and finishing fifth in the CIMB Classic.
Howell was already three off the lead when he stood on the third tee. He bogeyed the first hole after driving into a fairway bunker, then made double-bogey with a drive into the hazard right of the second fairway. He thought his chances of winning were over.
He started his comeback with birdies at Nos. 5 and 6 to make the turn in 36, then started the back nine with a birdie.
Four players — Howell, Rodgers, Webb Simpson and Cameron Champ — shared the lead on the back nine. Rodgers, playing in the third-to-last group, pulled two ahead with birdies on 14 and 15. Howell was able to chase him down, though.
It started with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 15th, the day’s easiest hole. Then he holed an 18-footer for birdie on 16 to tie Simpson and Rodgers at 18 under par. Rodgers birdied the 18th hole before Howell hit his 5-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th.
“That almost made my putt easier because then I knew, well, you have to make this to have a chance on 18,” Howell said.
Howell made that birdie at 17 to tie Rodgers. On 18, Howell dropped to his knees as his 22-foot birdie putt missed by the smallest of margins. He barely missed his 14-footer for birdie on the first playoff hole, as well. One finally went in on the second extra hole.
“Golf is a brutal game. The highs of the highs, it comes with a lot of really low lows,” Howell said. “It’s a wonderful lesson to be learned that if you truly believe in what you’re doing, to stay the course.”
ON A TEAR
Cameron Champ’s impressive fall season concluded with a sixth-place finish at Sea Island. The 23-year-old rookie is now ranked sixth in the FedExCup. His three top-10s are tied with Gary Woodland for most on TOUR.
Champ was tied for the lead with nine holes remaining at Sea Island Golf Club, but he could only manage an even-par 35 on the back nine. He reached 17 under par with his birdie on the par-5 15th, but his chances ended with a bogey on the 17th hole.
Fourteen of his last 16 rounds have been in the 60s. He’s been in the top 10 after 13 of those rounds. His 117 birdies are the most on TOUR this season and the most ever made in the fall portion of the wraparound schedule. By leading the TOUR in birdies and eagles at the end of the fall, Champ won the Birdies Fore Love competition. He earned $300,000 for charity.
The runner-up was Rodgers’ third in 117 starts. The 26-year-old put up an admirable effort in his quest for his first win.
He shot 61-62 on the weekend. His 17-under 123 was the low weekend score by five shots. He shot the day’s low round on both Saturday and Sunday, and almost became the fourth player this decade to win after making the cut on the number.
“I fought as hard as I could,” Rodgers said. His round included an 86-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th, the hardest hole of the day. Had he won, it would have been the longest putt ever made by a winner in the ShotLink era.
Webb Simpson was eight shots back at The RSM’s halfway point. He had to get an I.V. before teeing off Friday because of a stomach bug. He still had a 9-foot birdie putt on 18 to make it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard. He barely missed.
“It’s a bummer. We read it really well,” Simpson said.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Charles Howell III's winning birdie putt is the Shot of the Day
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the fourth round of The RSM Classic, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
QUOTABLESI can’t wait to go back to my day job.I want to win here. I’ve had some chances. We’ll be back next year.
Lowest round: Rodgers’ 62 was the low round of the day by one shot. Peter Uihlein shot a 63 to finish seventh.
Longest putt: Rodgers’ 86-footer for birdie on No. 12 was the longest made putt this week by 26 feet.
Longest drive: Uihlein hit the three longest drives of the day. He hit 332-yard tee shots on the eighth and 16th holes and a 331-yard drive on the 18th hole.
Hardest hole: The par-3 12th hole played to a 3.06 scoring average. Rodgers’ birdie was one of just six on the 223-yard hole Sunday.
Easiest hole: The 541-yard, par-5 15th hole played to a 4.1 average on Sunday. The hole yielded 53 birdies and nine eagles.