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March 22, 2009

Charles Howell III


MARK WILLIAMS: Charles, thank you for joining us in the interview room here at the Transitions Championship. Great playing, a little disappointing getting into the lead there and not quite getting the job done at the end. Great playing and good start to the year.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Thank you. I read your column, you picked Goosen or Lehman?

Q. I said the final group.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, exactly.

Q. Sorry about that.
CHARLES HOWELL III: No, you were right.
The golf course was unbelievably difficult. I can't think of the last time I've seen a golf course change more from Thursday and Friday to Saturday and Sunday that it wasn't a major. The greens, especially yesterday, even on a Saturday, were just brutal, and par became a good score.
Other than that, the last time I played with Goose was here when he won in 2003, or I think he won here in 2003. And then I played with him the first two days at Shinnecock when he won. Hell, he owes me half. (Laughter).
But no, I mean, the golf course was just phenomenal, and the shorter courses are showing themselves to be some of the toughest all year, and 8-under wins and it's good to see.
MARK WILLIAMS: Do you like that kind of golf course where it's progressively more difficult?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, I think it's great. There were a couple of holes where the greens were very borderline gone, such as the 18th green today. That putt from above the hole was so fast. You know, the 14th green there, that green there is getting really quick and baked out. But you know what, everybody plays it, and it makes for par is a good score. If not, guys would shoot 18-, 20-under.

Q. I picked Ryo Ishikawa by the way, but that's beside the point.
CHARLES HOWELL III: That's shocking of you. (Laughter).

Q. When you guys made the birdie on 14 and are at 9-under, are you trying to finish with pars?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Absolutely. I told my caddie four pars would do it. And that's not taking anything away from anybody in the field. It's just those holes are that difficult. When you look at it, where the flag was on 15, very front right, and then the last three holes, I really can't find a birdie hole in there.
Maybe 18, maybe. But once again that, green is so treacherous down front that it's really difficult to make three. So, yeah, when I got to 9, I thought yeah, four pars would do it.

Q. And the chip on 15, would you talk about what the green was doing once you got to the green and just how delicate you have to be with that thing?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I thought if I landed the ball on that green, it was gone and it would catch the swale and go 50 feet by. Yeah, I got cute with the chip, and I thought it warranted because if I just dumped it out of there like I did and it didn't hop forward, I could make a putt for a three, and worst I'll make a four. If the ball gets on the green and gets going, it's gone and I have no chance for a three. A bogey there was not the end of the world; had I parred the last three.

Q. You seemed to have a bounce in your step all week, and even today coming in here, despite not winning. Can you just talk about big picture, what this week means to you and how you're feeling about your game overall?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I played in Puerto Rico last week, and played good the first two rounds and on a windy third day I shot 77. That was a quiet night in the hotel room there. That was a pretty low point there, where I was just -- I felt I was playing well. Wasn't leading the tournament but I was up it, around it.
Played a good round that Sunday in Puerto Rico, which was nice. You know, then I had the Tavistock Cup Monday and Tuesday. Played with Tiger on Tuesday, who I spend a lot of time with and talking with. You know, it was just kind of nice to pick myself back up from that day in Puerto Rico where I did not play well at all.
This course here, I like it. I like the fact that pars are good scores. You know, you ride on such a thin line on a track like this where you just know every bogey hurts more than most, because you know it's so much harder to make up. And I do like venues like that.
Apart from that, the work I've done with Todd Anderson has really helped. I'm learning to trust it more. I've said, I'm kind of a fastball pitcher and I'm learning to become a pitcher that throws splitters and knuckleballs, and actually become a golfer.
Of all the things I've seen great players do, that's what they do so well, is when their fastball is not working, they are not out of it. They can still create ways to get it done. That's what I'm learning how to do, and this week I thought I did a pretty good job of it.

Q. You more than a lot, know how much the Masters means to you; is there any point in the back of your mind today, is it hard to keep out of your mind, knowing that a win would get you in there?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Well, if Retief's 5-footer lipped out, I wouldn't have cried.
Yeah, I mean, the golf tournament means more to me than anything. That may be why I haven't played as well as I would have liked to. But frankly, it's just hard to get that out of your head; that it is Augusta. So everybody's nervous there. Everybody's on edge. The golf course can make you look great or look like an absolute idiot, but I love it. And I think everybody in golf loves it. There's not a -- I don't think there's a professional golfer in the world that wouldn't like to play that golf tournament.
And so, yeah, it's in my mind. It was in my mind today. But in a good way, for incentive, to keep hanging in there. But I've got two more weeks, and obviously I have to win a tournament to get in there.
But yeah, today, I thought about it. Would have been something.

Q. If there is a disappointment from last year, would that be the biggest one; the fact that you're not qualified? Because you have played in it every year, I believe going back to 2002.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, it would be, for sure. When they give you the Top-30 criteria to get in, that, for sure, because you can still play as many tournaments as you want to try to get into the Top-30. It kills you on the World Ranking but on the Money List side of it, it can help you. That's probably my biggest disappointment is not being in that tournament.
Yeah, I've given it a run. I've played a lot of tournaments. I've played a lot of golf this year. But like I said, I'm going to play the next two and work my tail off to try to do it. .

Q. Did you think for a second that Retief's putt was going to lipout at the end?
CHARLES HOWELL III: No, I didn't see it. I was on the putting green. I didn't see it. But I heard he had like a 5-footer. But that guy, you're never going to bet against him to miss that. You don't win two U.S. Opens by missing those.

Q. What kind of lie did you have in the rough on 16?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I didn't think it was that bad. The ball just came out dead. Frankly, I mean, in my career, I've hit it in the rough a lot; that wasn't that bad of a lie. It just came out a lot softer than I thought it would; short. But short and to the right.
Yeah, I didn't think it was that bad of a lie.

Q. Pretty much anybody out here that comes to the final hole needing a par to win is going to get the benefit of the doubt; they are probably going to close the deal. But today, was 18 questionable enough that there was some drama?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, today it was questionable. I think that's why Brett and I were on the putting green. I'm sure Retief will tell you that he had to work his tail off for that par, because you've got to hit the fairway, first off. If you don't hit the fairway there, you're going to have a really hard time with that front flag.
Then with where that flag was, and that green there, man, I mean, obviously I didn't get to see it, but I'm sure there was a lot of 3-putting around that hole today.
So, yeah, that hole there made it, yeah, 50/50, 60/40.

Q. There were 15 bogeys out of the last 24 players.
CHARLES HOWELL III: So there you have it. And when you have to do it win the golf tournament, that's never easy, no.

Q. Not to belabor this, but if you don't get to Augusta, will you watch it? Will it be hard for you to watch it?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I might caddie for Tiger in the Par 3. I'll work on that, actually. (Laughter).
Oh, absolutely I'll watch it. I love it. You've got to watch it. I'm just a golf fan. I'll watch every minute of it.
You know, it's a great tournament to watch. It's not always fun to play, but it's a hell of a tournament to watch. But no, I'll watch every second of it, because I think it's great. Yeah, I wouldn't miss it.

Q. What club did you hit on 15?

Q. Was 15 the more disappointing bogey to 16?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, absolutely, because you've got a ball on a tee. I wasn't trying to play at the flag. The wind just was a bit more left-to-right than I gave it credit for. I wasn't trying to get cute with that flag. I was trying to hit it to the left and make two or three; at no point was I thinking about making a two there, no.
MARK WILLIAMS: Charles, appreciate you coming in.

End of FastScripts


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