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January 9, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome Charles Howell, III who is seeking his tenth top 10 finish at the Sony Open in 18 starts. That's quite a record you have here at this tournament, this golf course. If we can get some comments on being back at a place that you love.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, I do love it here. Funny thing is I really can't give a reason why I've had those finishes here, but I do like golf course. It's quite a bit different than a lot we play. It's old-style, but there is parts that can reward some length off the tee.
There are some holes where you're basically giving up even trying to hit the fairway to get an angle into a green. Yeah, from the direction that golf courses are headed, this is quite a bit different than a lot of them that we play. This is a nice change from the norm.
THE MODERATOR: You head into Hawaii this year having won at RSM. Just comment about how that has set you up for the rest of the season and goals going forward.
CHARLES HOWELL III: No. 1 thing that does is -- well, I mean, obviously gets me to the Masters, which is just one thing that's always on my mind entering now through the Florida swing, if you will. So that's a big one that that's kind of off my thoughts.
But other than that, too, it's like I've said, besides being a relief, it was a really good reminder of how good guys are and where this game and tour are headed, the scores that guys are shooting. So a good reminder to kick my butt in gear and keep working and practicing. If I want to still be sitting here in a few years, that's what's got to happen.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. You said you couldn't explain your results, but can you explain why you haven't won given you've been so prevalent here?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Man, winning takes really good golf at the right time with the right break in there. Now, that's coming from somebody that's got a whole lot of seconds and thirds and not a lot of wins. Tiger may explain that differently.
So one of those three things I just haven't done. It's easy to sugarcoat this or whatever. The fact of the matter is you just got to play better and play better at the right time. So I just haven't done that.
That was the one thing at RSM, where I birdied 15, 16, 17'. In the past I just haven't done that. May have birdied 15, par'd 16, 17, had a third, fourth place finish, and then there you go again. So it takes a mix of all that.
Now, the good news is I've been in the mix. Obviously you can't do it if you're not in the mix. The line between first and second is a big line.
Q. When you go on such a run without the wins but are so successful in terms of finishes, does what make it easier or still kick you in the guts?
CHARLES HOWELL III: For me personally, yeah, it's made it easier. Now, when I was younger it bothered me a whole lot more. As I've gotten older I've appreciated maybe consistency and having nice finishes, nice years, et cetera, together.
When I was younger it bothered me a lot more. But I still love the game. I still love playing. If I viewed golf as a job or just going to do this because I can earn a living at it, I don't know how it would feel. I still love playing. I hope to sit here in ten years and say I still love playing. I want to play the Champion's Tour. I don't know if that will be the case or not.
But if I weren't doing this today here I would be at home playing golf right now. I still also see it from that side as well.
Q. Do you know Chris Thomson, the 42 year old rookie?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I don't know him. I know of him.
Q. He made an interesting point that this is a sport where not a lot of good players leave but a lot of good players keep coming into it.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes.
Q. Did you ever take notice of that?
CHARLES HOWELL III: That's a good point actually. I took notice of -- I remember the years I would come here and 1-, 2-over par would make the cut. I remember the years I shot 7-, 8-under and finished Top 5. I noticed those years were gone. I started noticing whatever score like we thought the cut was going to be, it would be one or two lower than that all the time.
I pay attention to the college guys. I follow Oklahoma State Golf a lot so...
CHARLES HOWELL III: So I play attention to who is in there, and so I kind of knew what was coming. All these guys were hitting the ball over 300 yards; they all putt great. Then you get Justin Thomas come out and win a bunch; Jordan Spieth come out and win a bunch. So when they do that, that's a veteran job gone. That's another veteran's job gone. That's just how it works.
So, yes, I notice not so much the good players staying but I notice the really good players coming in.
Q. Pardon me if this is too hard-hitting for you, but when you go to the Masters, do you have to get your own housing because your family has grown? How does that work? Do you stay in your house?
CHARLES HOWELL III: We stay in our house.
Q. Do you stay in the same room you grew up in?
CHARLES HOWELL III: It's been redone, so yes and no. We get -- fortunately it's just my mom and dad so there are a whole a lot of empty rooms in there. The kids actually like it more than I do because they get to stay in the Land of Yes for seven days, maybe five and a half.
But when I first started on tour the best players were the older players. Now I've gotten older it's shifted the other way and the best players seem to be the younger players. So you go look at now at all the guys that we talk about, that we focus on, Jordan, McIlroy, Justin Thomas, et cetera, these are all young guys and they're the, quote, sport's best. That wasn't necessarily the case -- you can throw out Tiger -- when I played it was the guys in there mid, late 30s that were the top players.
Like I've seen that also switch around. It's healthy for golf; it's great for golf.
Q. Never mind golf, what did that do for your own psyche? Make you depressed?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, it makes me keep working hard. I know that. It makes me keep trying to find new and creative ways to get better, new ways to push myself along, if you will.
You know, there isn't a good player that has come out of college that doesn't hit it 300 yards and doesn't putt good. So if that isn't motivation enough to practice then I don't know what is. They'll take your job from you like that.
If you look around, a lot of them keep doing that.
Q. You said that it used to bother you when you were younger.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes.
Q. Do you remember when it stopped bothering you?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I remember somewhere around 2008, 2009, when, yeah, I realized, okay, hang on. You can still have a fantastic career and not win all the time. I don't mean that as defeatist, because it's not. It's just the reality of it.
I think Tiger coming along made winning look a lot easier than it really is. I think that's the reality. I think it's so easy in this game that you always really push yourself along to try to get better and improve, and that's a great thing to do. At the end of the day you have to stop and realize, okay, hang in, it's really hard to win. If I'm able to keep staying in the mix and having a nice career, eventually the win will happen.
So I think it was then, too. Then after having kids and kind of being pulled by my golf life and family life, too, I think you realize that golf can make you miserable if you let it. Where if you play good you're a good person, if you play bad you're a bad person, et cetera, et cetera.
I think having kids you realize you just can't do that. It's like, No, I'm going to go do the best I can do and that's going to be what it is and I'm going to go home. Work on it in practice, but this is going to be it.
Honestly, that may not sound like the right thing to say, but it is the reality and makes this a lot easier.
Q. Saying that, the win you just did have, has that freed up any burden?
CHARLES HOWELL III: It has for sure. It's kind of a nice reminder I can still do it. As time goes by you wonder, Hang on here. I'm doing all I can do. It's been 11 years. I can't work harder, I can't put more thought into it, more time into it, so maybe this is what it is. To actually do that, okay, I can still do this.
That and getting into the Masters, too, to play that. Sounds crazy enough, but watching that can tournament on television every year kind of gets old. It doesn't mean more to me because I'm from Augusta, because that tournament means something to everybody. I get it. But watching it on TV as opposed to being there to play it, it's not fun. You want to be there.
Q. You watch your world ranking.
CHARLES HOWELL III: All the time. Absolutely. Yes. I know more about the World Golf Ranking System than a lot of people, I think. Yes, yeah. Might take Albert Einstein to decipher it, is but I understand how it works and it was painful watching that, yes.
Q. Why is the Masters so much better than the other tournaments, in your opinion?
CHARLES HOWELL III: It's played on the same golf course every year and therefore it develops history. I can sit here and say, How about the 7th hole at Augusta, and everybody here knows what hole that is. I can say, How about the 5th hole at Bethpage Black, you don't really know what that is.
So I think that has a lot to do with it.
Q. Do any other major venues excite you, outside of Augusta obviously?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Pebble Beach I think does. St. Andrews does.
Q. Bahama not so much?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Excuse me? Yeah, I mean, there are, but I don't think anybody gets as excited for an event as the Masters. You hear players talking about it a month before. I'm working on this shot, I'm working on this club, putting a 5-wood in my bag. You don't really ever here hear that. Hey, I'm going into Whistling Straights and I'm going to put this in a month early. You don't really ever hear that.
Q. As much as you love your job, which you do, right?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes.
Q. Even though you had your cake last year, hit your 500 career start at Shanghai in 2017.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes.
Q. Could you possibly entertain the idea of 800 or more career starts on the PGA TOUR? Would that mean anything to you?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I thought about setting the record, and Jay Haas. I can't imagine getting there. That would be 29, 30 events for the next ten years. I mean, I can't imagine getting there. If I'm healthy enough who knows what can happen.
Q. Only 39.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Only. In golf years I'm 100, so...
I can't imagine getting there. I don't know if that would mean a lot, like more to me. The fact that he's done it is unbelievable. If I could stay -- I still don't know. I can't imagine getting there.
Q. What would hold you back?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Not wanting to miss out on kids' stuff. So taking more weeks off to be at home for the kids' activities, soccer, golf, this, that. I could see my schedule coming back at some point in time if I'm good enough to do that. Steve Stricker is one of the very few, right?
CHARLES HOWELL III: He told me about five times he's retiring; still here.
Q. When was the last time you played Augusta?
CHARLES HOWELL III: 2012 Masters.
Q. Last time you played it?
CHARLES HOWELL III: That is correct, yes, sir.
Q. Obviously you could, I would assume, knowing enough people, when your back in town...
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes.
Q. But you make a decision not to?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, because I don't feel like I've earned the right to be there. Like that's a place that's really special to me and I want to feel like I've earned the right and deserve to be out there.
So I'll go and play early now before the tournament, okay, now I've qualified. But if I don't feel like I've deserve -- I don't know. There is just something about it. I can't do it.
Q. When you first played there, which was how old?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Seven, eight, nine.
Q. Do you have one or two specific memories of Augusta? Not necessarily during the Masters.
CHARLES HOWELL III: My biggest and best memory is walking around watching Larry Mize win. I was standing up there to the right side of the 11th hole when he chipped in to win. Just the people going nuts and him jumping up and down.
Now, the fact that he was from Augusta and won the golf tournament the first Masters I attended being from Augusta, maybe that spoiled me a bit. These guys from Augusta win this all the time. I distinctly remember that moment.
The other I remember a lot, Jodie Mud. I don't know if you remember the name. He was a guy I looked up to massively. Every year he played I walked around and watched every shot he hit. I remember his mom gave out these badges that said Mud Mania. I wore one of those things every day watching that guy play.
I knew the Masters meant so much to him to win that. But those two memories there really stick out.
Another one, the Sunday that Faldo came from behind to beat Greg Norman. At the time I was working with David Leadbetter and he was staying at our house. I walked every hole of that day with Lead, and it was incredible how that day developed, how the crowd switched. Just how it went from Greg is going to do this and the excitement to oh, my goodness to okay, yes, okay, Faldo, let's cheer for him.
Watching that with Lead who is coaching Nick at the time, that was a pretty big learning experience, too. So those three.
Q. When Mize won, were you rooting for Norman or Larry?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Larry because he's from Augusta. After that I became a big Greg Norman fan. I had a life-sized poster in my room of Greg Norman. He was always going to win it and it was always going to be his event.
Q. Ever wear one of his hats?
CHARLES HOWELL III: No. I wasn't that cool. I didn't have that.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes, I did. Still remember it. Absolutely.
THE MODERATOR: Anything else? Good stuff, Charles. Thank you. (Off microphone conversation.) Let's wrap this thing up.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports