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January 28, 2007

Charles Howell III


JOE CHEMCYZ: We welcome Charles Howell with a 4-under par 68, second place finish. Charles, off to a great start this year, congratulations on a great week. Maybe just talk about the final day, the final round if you would and then we'll open it up.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, it ain't easy beating that guy. I don't really know -- you know, I've never been paired with Tiger on a Sunday in a final round. He just -- he just doesn't make mistakes. You know, he had great up-and-downs on 14 and 16 to hang in there, and then his birdie obviously on 17. And you keep saying it's typical Tiger, yet he keeps doing it, doesn't he.
I played really well today. I thought at the start of the day 3- or 4-under would do it. I shot 4-under and it didn't. I would have taken that at the beginning of the day and sat here with you guys.

Q. Four holes into it you were 3-down and at the turn you were three behind Tiger and five off the lead, how did you try to stay in the game and keep attacking?
CHARLES HOWELL III: You know, the one thing I did know was that the golf course was extremely difficult and you know, going into the turn, his eagle putt on 9, you just knew that was going in. He just hit way too good of a 3-wood in there and we laughed about it the whole way up the fairway. He's getting old but he can still fly that 3-wood 280. (Laughter) So we were joking about that. You just knew the putt was going in.
But I knew the golf course was difficult. I knew if I hung in there, I knew 13 was reachable in two, the par 5. I just made bogey on the first hole, I know it is the first hole, but it adds up when you're playing the No. 1 player in the world and missed a short putt for par on 11. Those are the things that you just can't do when you're trying to beat Tiger. And it helped tremendously today that we are such good friends. You know, we chatted a lot out there today.
And this will probably sound a bit odd, but it was almost a bit comforting to play with Tiger in that we are such good friends, we have spent so much time together. We all know how great of a player he is, but he's a great person as well and he was really, really good to play with today.

Q. Fair to say that shot he dropped down the chimney on 17 was probably the game-breaker, I guess? All of a sudden he's up two and you've got to go for the jugular on the last hole.
CHARLES HOWELL III: It didn't help. From my point of view, it's not what I wanted to see. But I remember 2005, and I just had a sneaky feeling that the 18th hole might give me one. I finished second to Tiger then and when my ball hit the hole and popped back out. He had a nasty lie for that chip. I don't think anybody realize how -- what a shot he hit for that fourth shot. He could have -- in fact, we were chatting out there, he could have easily double-hit that ball. From where I was, I thought it would roll into it a sprinkler head and it was a nasty lie.
But yeah, I didn't want to be two down going into 18, would I much rather have been one down but, I don't know, I thought maybe the hole would owe me one.

Q. Your eagle putt on 18, how difficult was that and were you aiming for a spot on bank to roll it down?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I was trying to just obviously hole the putt. I knew Tiger would get that ball up-and-down. Yeah, I actually -- I actually over read it more than I ended up putting it. Jimmy actually talked me into a lower line and I still missed the ball high.
Yeah, it's an extremely difficult putt, but I was glad I was able to get a 3-wood on the ball from the rough to go for the green. I at least wanted to putt at a 3. I figured although I have flown a wedge in the hole before, I thought a putt would be a lot better chance of making 3 than a wedge again. I didn't want to try my chances at that.

Q. Said this is the first time you've played with Tiger on a Sunday, I assume you've played with him on other days?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Once other in competition besides the Presidents Cup.

Q. Can you just give a sense for his demeanor or and his, what he's like on a Sunday? He's so reliable in finishing tournaments as a competitor, what do you see when you're watching him play a round like this?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, the obvious answer is that he's tough, but he just doesn't change. You know, you may see a club slam or you may see whatever, but his overall demeanor doesn't change. He never let's one bad shot affect the next one, and you know, it's one thing to slam a club or to kick a golf bag or whatever to get some frustration out, as long as it doesn't affect the next one, and you never see it carry over with him.
Besides that, he's got one hell of a short game. You know, if you just look at it, you've got the ball up-and-down on 11, which you know, that was really difficult, you know, he gets the ball up-and-down on 14, gets the ball up-and-down on 15, and there on 18. Those are pretty good combinations.

Q. What's your sense, your take of how special winning 7 PGA TOUR starts in a row is, which he just did today which is the second longest streak next to Byron's?
CHARLES HOWELL III: If you look at the PGA TOUR, you're seeing a lot of guys win tournaments that -- you're seeing a lot of variety of names win tournaments. Let's take this year for instance, you had Vijay at the Mercedes, you had Paul Goydos at the Sony Open and Charley Hoffman win last week, so it shows the depth of competition.
This guy is winning golf tournaments, and every player in this field can win. 156 guys tee it up, they all have a shot at winning. So it's incredible. To win seven in a row, I'd cut my arm off to win a 'nammed 'nother one, just give me one. (Laughter) I gave the guy a baby gift, I was hoping he would pay it back somehow.
I say that; I'm a huge Tiger Woods fan. He's a very good friend of mine, but damn, I've love to have beat him.

Q. Obviously there are things worse than finishing second but after finishing second several times without get that next win, do you start to wonder what it will take to get over the hump and get that next victory?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I just need to get better. That's the simple answer. I bogeyed the first hole, I bogeyed the 11th hole, there's two shots right there.
I mean, it just plain and simple. I've just got to get better. And the things that I'm working on, they showed a lot better signs today than a couple weeks ago at the Sony Open. I drove the ball really well at the back nine today. Had I done that at the Sony, it could have been a different outcome. Still got to continue working on the short game and get that better.
The stuff we're working on is the right stuff. I've just got to get better at doing it.

Q. I know you're not out here trying to collect moral victories where three weeks you said that one stung a little bit, you have to feel good about what happened here today even though it was another second.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, you know, I walked to the 15th tee and I just said to myself, this is as good as it gets. In that position there, two behind Tiger with four to play, I've got nothing to lose. You know, this guy has everything to lose. So that's just as good as it gets.
I can see where this guy's confidence has grown so massive to be in that situation so many times that -- I just can't imagine exactly what he feels like on the inside because I'm telling you, on a Sunday with Tiger Woods is as good as it gets. And to have a chance there to win the golf tournament there at the end, I mean, it just doesn't get any better than that apart from maybe winning it.
But so just the chance of it, it just doesn't get any better.

Q. You guys were standing there laughing and joking at the delay for your turn, it seemed to get more serious, I think you birdied six out of ten holes in that stretch. Did conversation cease when the plot thickened a little bit and you cut it to one?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Honestly no, and I'll tell you, I hit the shot into 15 and walking up there, turned around, said "hey, great shot." Hit a shot into 16, "great shot" there. You know, up into 18, "Great 3-wood in there." It really doesn't, surprisingly no. Maybe with other people it would have, I don't know. Maybe it's because we're friends and he's worn me out so many times at Isleworth. But no, it didn't.
Now obviously when it's his turn to play, he's obviously in the shot there. And believe you me, he wanted to beat me as bad as I wanted to beat him. But no, it was -- like I said, he was actually very easy to play with.

Q. Do you think seven wins in this era is more difficult than 11 in a row in the era when Byron was playing and they didn't even have cuts? I know that's a tough question to denigrate seemingly what the old guy did.
CHARLES HOWELL III: You know, you're teeing me up on this one.
I'll give you an honest answer. Boy, I'm going to get it. (Laughter) Yeah, I think this is more difficult what he did, yes, I do. I've probably offended a lot of people by saying that. But I think that the competition that he's playing against, I think Tiger is the product of a lot of the competition he's playing against. He's obviously set the standards extremely high and raised the bar. I think this -- I think his is more difficult, yes.
JOE CHEMCYZ: Charles, thank you.

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