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February 1, 2007

Charles Howell III


CHARLES HOWELL III: I want to say a nice thank you for the people at Callaway for helping me this off-season and getting me fitted for a nice driver. I've driven the ball a lot better this year with it. And then to David Leadbetter, the coach. We spent a lot of time this off-season in Orlando together. Those two factors have helped a lot.

Q. Last week it wasn't quite the result you wanted, but did that one feel a little better than some of your other runner-up finishes, the way you finished that back nine?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, yeah, it definitely felt a lot different than the Sony Open. I had a two-shot lead with nine holes to go there, and I felt pretty good about it and didn't play well in the end.
Last week any time you get a chance to chase down Tiger it's completely different. I had nothing to lose that back nine and was fortunate enough to play well and keep putting pressure on him. It was a little different playing Tiger, but it was fun to get on a run.

Q. The way you started this year being early on, does that change your outlook or your goals or the rest of the season?
CHARLES HOWELL III: You know, we just keep playing. I think with the FedExCup this year it's going to be important to pace yourself, especially with points being re-seeded going into the playoffs, it's going to be important to be fresh going into those weeks there. So really no amount of lead is safe going into those events. It's all going to boil down to playing well at the end.

Q. I know it's really early, but FedExCup, you're leading right now. Have you thought about the $10 million at all?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Oh, no, no, no. Golf is a funny game, number one; and number two, it's January. Not even close.

Q. February, but you're close.

Q. Good solid round. Just talk about your round.
CHARLES HOWELL III: I mean, it's not our typical Scottsdale weather. We're used to having it a little warmer than this. Some of the par 5s that are pretty easily reachable were not to reachable today. But any time you can shoot under par, especially opening the day, is good.

Q. You talked about your new driver. How many fairways did you hit today with that?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I don't know, I haven't added it up. I just know that throughout the beginning of the year here I've driven the ball a whole lot better than I have in the last couple years. You know, I attribute a lot to it. It's a little larger face, a little more forgiving. It's nice to hit the ball a long way, but you have to put the ball in the fairway.

Q. Do it the other way: How many fairways do you think you missed?

Q. Not very many then.

Q. On 16 did they have any fun waiting for you today?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, we played there early. We played there early and cold, so they weren't quite warmed up yet, but I'm sure tomorrow afternoon we'll get the full effect of it. You know, the whole -- I was watching the highlights from The Golf Channel the other night of when Phil and Justin Leonard played here quite a few years ago, and the hole looked naked then compared to how it is now with all the grandstands and sky boxes. But it's a heck of an atmosphere.

Q. They've serenaded you before. Does that bother you or is it kind of fun for you when you get over there?
CHARLES HOWELL III: No, actually it's -- it's actually quite fun. This is the only week of the year you get it, so it's almost what this tournament has become known for. It's a great golf course here, but almost the 16th hole sort of gets to be what this whole place is known for.

Q. After last year's tough year, how gratifying is it to get off to a good start like this and sort of get your game back in gear?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, it's real nice. Last year was a struggle. The important thing last year was I finished the year well. I played the last six or seven events good, which was a lot better than I played in the middle of the -- in the summertime. Yeah, it's nice to get off to a nice start. I love the golf course on the west coast, I love the west coast. I had a feeling I'd play well out here, but you never know until you start going.

Q. Do you think you can say that you're enjoying a rebirth in your career with the way you've bounced back?
CHARLES HOWELL III: You know, I wouldn't say as much that as the fact that maybe I've sort of simplified things, maybe not quite so -- trying not to be quite so mechanical, spending quite a bit more time on the short game. But everybody out here works hard, everybody out here can probably say they're doing one thing or the other. But it's nice to see the results early.

Q. I heard your interview the other day. You dropped David in 2005, right?

Q. And then you got back together with him?

Q. How long were you apart?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I've talked enough about that.

Q. I didn't know.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, I've talked enough about that, thanks. We're doing fine now.

Q. I don't want to go back to that. I just want to know for the record how far were you apart?
CHARLES HOWELL III: About three months, thanks.

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