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November 6, 2003

Charles Howell III


TODD BUDNICK: Charles, thanks for joining us after a 4-under 67 today. Looks like you picked up where you ended last year's TOUR Championship with your fifth straight round in the 60s. Of course you finished second place last year. Talk about a bogey and a birdie on the front and then you got going on the back side today.

CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, today was an interesting day. It was a new wind blowing. We played two practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday with literally absolutely no wind at all. Today there was a bit of wind blowing and from a different direction. You have to kind of expect that, I think, in the Midwest. I still would say, go back saying the greens are the most important thing this week. They're so big. And you're going to have to -- the lag putt is going to have to be really well done this week. And you're going to have a lot of long putts. By virtue of how massive the greens are.

Q. Were you first round leader last week?

CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes, I was. I had 5 under the first day.

Q. King of the first round, I guess, fast starts. You got an explanation for that at all, any theory?

CHARLES HOWELL III: I don't know. I played well last Thursday. Obviously I didn't do as well as I wanted to on the weekend. I don't know. I guess I like Thursdays. I don't know. I know 4-unders this week will do just fine.

Q. Do you think scores will be that low, you mentioned 4-unders, even if the conditions remain good?

CHARLES HOWELL III: If the conditions stay good, I see they could possibly be. Because the par-5s are reachable. With the way the wind blew today, every par-5 was reachable in two. So when you have that case and these players hitting between 6, 5, 4, 3-iron into these par-5s, yeah, the scores are going to be low. So if it stays like this, yeah; if it gets windier, no.

Q. Seemed like you maybe didn't hit driver as much as you could have today. Just curious about your thinking on that. Obviously it worked out.

CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, I am just trying to play to the widest parts of the fairways. And if that's sacrificing maybe one or two clubs into the green, but yet I'm playing to the widest part of the fairway, that's fine with me, especially because the greens are so big this week. It's not like that we're playing -- although the flags are on these little corners and stuff, it's not like we're playing to small targets. So if I feel like I've got the widest part of the fairway to hit at and it's 1 or 2 clubs more, that's no problem at all.

Q. Is that something maybe a couple years ago you wouldn't have done or is that not true?

CHARLES HOWELL III: It's something that I would have done, but not to this extent. I wouldn't have looked at it that way. Now when I go and look at a golf course, I'm looking to the widest parts of the fairway and then what will that leave me to the green. Granted there's going to be some times where you're just hitting drivers to narrow parts because of the virtue of the hole. But for the most part I'm always going to be playing to the widest parts of the fairway, sure.

Q. When was your last week off? You played Greensboro too, right?

CHARLES HOWELL III: No, I took that off. That was my last week off. So I played Disney, Tampa, and here.

Q. Are you kind of burned at all at this point in the year? Do you sense that?

CHARLES HOWELL III: No, I think I like the end of the year. I don't know why it is.

Q. You play a lot.

CHARLES HOWELL III: I guess I know that we have a break coming up. I like the end of the year. I did well at the end of the year last year. I like it. I like the tournaments a lot. If you think that I'm at home the week of Disney, and Tampa is only an hour and 15 minutes away, those don't take the toll on you like the others do.

Q. 1:15 maybe in your Mercedes. It's an hour and 15 minutes?

CHARLES HOWELL III: It's all just a matter of who is driving it. So those two weeks are pretty easy.

Q. Charles, you're one of the group of guys that are in this week's field that hasn't won this year. And you are one of the 18 first-time winners last year. Talk about the difficulty of coming out and trying to win this year and the frustration if there's been any, about not being able to win.

CHARLES HOWELL III: I was interviewed on this last week. It's not easy to win out here. I think that's the thing you take from it. If you look at last year, you had 18 first-time winners. Everybody thought all the young players are going to takeover and do well, the older players are guys age 40 and over are done. And then you see the complete opposite happen this year. You see a lot of guys win a lot of times. And then hardly any first-time winners at all. It's just not easy to win out here. I think that's the thing to take from it.

Am I frustrated for not winning this year? Yeah, a little bit. Sure. I had a lot of good chances this year so far. And I don't think you can ever give yourself an A for the season without a win. So I would say that. Then again, there's a lot of good players out here and obviously it's not that easy to win. You still obviously want to do it, yes.

Q. You've had a lot of good first rounds this year, and then have had difficulty through the rest of the tournament. Is there any specific reason that you can point to or has it just been one of those things?

CHARLES HOWELL III: It's just one of those things. It's just golf. Maybe it's putting too much pressure on myself, maybe it's -- it can be any number of 8 million things. It just boils down to it's golf. It's just the way it is. Some weeks you play great all week; some it's early, some it's late. Whatever. It's just the game of golf. It's just the way it is. I'm still playing well, I'm working hard at it and it will be just fine.

Q. You said you would have a hard time giving yourself an A in a year when you haven't won. How would you characterize this year? What kind of year do you think it's been for you?

CHARLES HOWELL III: It's been a B. It's been that. I've done okay. But then again, I've played a lot early in the weeks to give myself a lot of good chances that I haven't taken advantage of. If I had won the tournament L.A. it could have been a lot different this year. Who knows. Then again hindsight is 20/20. If you look back, yeah, I give myself a B. I've been consistent. I've had a lot of top-25 finishes this year. On the other hand, I haven't won. So there's been a bit of give or take there.

Q. How do you think L.A. may have changed your year? Obviously you would have a win under your belt. But did you feel some sort of after effect from that?

CHARLES HOWELL III: I don't know. I don't know. That's just why I said I don't know. It could have been. I don't know. You never know. It's one of those things, if I would have just birdied that third hole, would I have shot different today? Who knows. I would have had a win under my belt early in the year, yes. And I felt I had a great chance to win there. But who knows. Who really knows exactly what it does cause later on. I gave myself a lot of good chances and those are all gone now.

Q. How would you rank this particular event in terms of importance? It's not quite a Major, but it's obviously a little above most of the regular TOUR events.

CHARLES HOWELL III: I get a kick out of people classifying Majors as the only big events. Because if you take, for instance, the TPC tournament, you got one of the strongest fields in the world there. And it's right there with the Major field. Then you take some Majors and you may not have some of the -- you may have some players not in those fields that are going to play other weeks. I feel like every tournament's a Major, to be quite honest. I haven't found one easy one to win out here yet.

I guarantee you, any event anybody wins is going to feel like a Major to them. So this tournament, yes, it's important, it's a TOUR Championship, sure it is. But then again, so is the Sony Open, so is the Bob Hope, so is everything, every other event we play, because it's a PGA TOUR. Every event is the highest level in golf and that's the way I look at it. You got one heck of a field here this week and you have great fields every week.

Q. The pressure of winning first time versus the pressure of following up and trying to win the second time, how different is that for you?

CHARLES HOWELL III: There's much more pressure to win the first time. Much more. Because you have never done it. You never have seen your name on top of the leaderboard with four holes to play. You never had that feeling inside. It's just an incredible rush. The feeling of seeing your name on top of the leaderboard and then coming through and coming out on top, when you have never done it, it's just pretty scary. It's hard to describe really. Once you have done that, the one time, you know you can do it again. So the pressure to win the first time is much greater than the second.

TODD BUDNICK: Let's go through the round, Charles. The bogey on three.

CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, the third hole I drove it through the fairway into the rough. Hit a 9-iron just to the right of the green. Didn't get up-and-down. Bogey.

Fifth hole birdie, par-5. Hit a driver and a 5-iron. Just over the green to the back bunker, up-and-down birdie. Birdie putt was about a six inches.

Then I birdied No. 12, the par-3. I hit a 3-iron to about a foot. That was playing 230 to the flag. That was the best shot I hit all day there by far.

Next hole par-5, I hit driver and a 6-iron to the middle of the green. 2-putt birdie.

The next hole 2-iron, 9-iron to about 10 feet, birdie.

And then 18, 3-wood, 9-iron to about what was it? 35 feet. I'm sure Shot Link will tell you differently. 37.2 inches. And I holed that for birdie.

Q. Shot Link will tell you it is 39 feet.

CHARLES HOWELL III: 39? Wow. Any inches?

Q. Zero inches, as I recall.

CHARLES HOWELL III: How about that.

Q. Do you think Shot Link's accurate?

CHARLES HOWELL III: Do I think Shot Link's accurate? It's beautiful weather, isn't it?

TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, Charles.

CHARLES HOWELL III: Yes, yes, Shot Link is accurate.

End of FastScripts.

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