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January 20, 2011

Charles Howell III


MARK STEVENS: Charles Howell got to 12-under for the tournament. Last year you led the TOUR in bogey-free rounds and had one in the first round, but had a bogey early today, if you want to kind of take us through your round then we'll take a few questions.
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Well the start, obviously the wind this morning was a bit, I guess you could say uncharacteristic for here, but it played harder early. I was fortunate to be at Palmer Private, I would probably venture to say that SilverRock was the hardest course today, to play in the conditions and whatnot.
Finally the wind calmed for us a bit around my 14th hole I would say and but, yeah, I had a bogey early which sometimes in a way that's good, it sort of woke me up a bit.
And other than that I had, I closed with three birdies to finish the day and this golf tournament is such a marathon, it's only Thursday and with three more days to go you still got guys that have maybe played SilverRock and haven't played over here, and whatnot, so it's a long way off.
MARK STEVENS: Questions?

Q. The wind this morning obviously you went off 1, you're dead in the wind the first three or four holes, five holes, really, there, aren't you?

Q. Was that the biggest problem or was it just it was inconsistent or swirling?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Well, the, I think that, part of it is you play practice rounds in Palm Springs with no wind and you see the golf course in no wind and all of a sudden the conditions change that drastically.
So No. 1, all of a sudden it was a driver and a 7-iron.
No. 2, par-5 really wasn't reachable.
And then you are standing on the tee of the par-3, the 4th hole, straight into the wind there over the water and it's sort of eye opening. I think you go, where did the birdie holes go?
I think that playing a bit conservative too. Just knowing that it's going to be windy for a bit of the day, so let's get through this without too many mistakes.
Plus, I knew that when the wind did flip around to the back nine we would get 14 through 18 essentially downwind with a great chance to make up for it there.

Q. Naturally the wind died for you there.
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Of course, yes. And it's golf.

Q. Talking about playing conservatively, is that hard to do here because you think to yourself somebody's going to be 15 or 16 or 18 or something?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Yes. Especially looking at the forecast early in the week where it said it was dead calm every day, you think, well, somebody may get to 30-under. So when you get a day like this, in a way it almost calms down the scoring just for a little bit, which does make it a little easier to play a bit more conservative.
Some holes in the wind force you to be that way and you got to realize that par isn't necessarily a bad score every time. Knowing that it is 90 holes, etcetera.
Now, if we were at SilverRock today and in that wind, you may, you may be really happy with even or 1-under par today. So that's sometimes the luck of the draw of the tee times out here.

Q. Do you take great pride in going the fewest bogeys, having that as something that they mention when you walk in?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Oh, yeah. No, yeah, I've never been a guy that's made a lot of birdies. So it's important for me to basically avoid the bogeys, etcetera.
I remember last year I played at the Greenbrier and went all 72 holes with no bogeys there. And I didn't realize I had even done that until about four holes to go in the tournament. And those four holes were brutal. If I would have never thought about it, it would have been fine and then I'm like, oh, man, I can't blow it up now.

Q. Did you make a bogey there?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: No, I didn't. I finished it, fortunately. But I do like that. Maybe it's because at times I do play a bit more conservative in spots than other players. It may be why I haven't made as many birdies, per se. But, yeah, it's important for me to avoid the bogeys, yes.

Q. What's the mindset going into this year? Obviously year last year you had some Top-10s, and then some 30s and 40s. 2007 Riviera is the last win, so what do you think about coming into a new year?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Obviously getting my World Ranking back where I want it to be, getting myself in more contention in golf tournaments. Just getting back to having chances to win and to win. That's the fun part. It's no fun sitting there playing on Sunday in 25th place and grinding that out.
Like a lot of guys, I work very hard in the off season for that and, listen, I'm very well aware of my World Ranking, etcetera, but there's so many good players out here now that a lot of times that at any given week anybody in the field can win the tournament. And depth of play and the competition is so good. And I'm also 31 now, I'm not, I used to be the young guy out there, I used to be the 21 year old asking, where do I stay next week?
So I do realize that I am in my 30s, etcetera. My response to that is just, is just to keep working hard, keep doing all the things, and hopefully the results will come from that. But the last few years since 2007 at Riviera haven't been much fun, no.

Q. We placed such high expectations on you and I think that part of that was because you were so accessible, you were so willing to talk to us and I think you had a lot of fans, have had a lot of fans, both media wise and otherwise. I mean, when you look back on it, do you think the expectations were too high? I know you guys always say nobody has higher expectations than yourselves, but I don't know, I think that there's some sense that you've under achieved thus far. Do you have that sense and/or is that kind of created by us because we put such high expectations on you?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: No, I mean first off expectations, I mean, I think they're great, because it means somebody thinks you can play. As far as the career I've had, which has been a good career by a lot of standards, and the fact that I still feel and others feel I've under achieved, that's, I mean that's good. I sure as hell hope I have. Because that means I've got better days ahead.
As far as like, I mean I've always enjoyed the media. I've always thought that the media had a, without the media we don't have a golf TOUR. So as far as the accessibility and whatnot, I just try to be me and so you know what I'm thinking and where I'm at and I always thought candor was probably the best approach. But with that said and expectations, listen, I do have ultra high expectations for myself, and I know that I can't work any harder than I work and I know I can't do anything else. So at the end of the day I can go to bed at night knowing that to date I've done absolutely everything in my power to play better and I think in time it will pay off.

Q. So do you think, as far as not wining more, and as hard as you have worked, are there a couple things you think have held you back from not wining more?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: I don't know, there's been spots in my work where I've had to really focus on long game and my short game and wedges have gotten worse. And I've really focused on the wedges and short game and then the long game suffered a bit. And I think it's taken me a bit of time to learn how to balance my practice.
When you look at it, I mean, there has to be some reason for me not winning, so, yeah, I would say probably the one thing that I've been aware of and over the past is better balanced practice throughout the whole bag.
I can get pretty zoned in and focused on one thing and then maybe another part of my game slips. Generally speaking I've played fairly good on the west coast, I struggled in the summer, and played better at the end of the year, so I'm aware of that as far as taking breaks throughout the year so I do stay fresh so I don't wear myself out.
I look at all that stuff. I think overall, everything being equal, I would say more balance in my practice throughout the whole bag as opposed to just getting so zoned in on one area.

Q. Is the nature of this tournament, the different courses, the five days, where you don't even maybe look at the leaderboard so much until Sunday? Can you really judge where you are until after Saturday?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Totally agree. No, you can't. Because like I said, you could have been at SilverRock today in 20 mile an hour winds and, yeah, you can't look. It's important, it's a very important thing I think to play these two golf courses, the Nicklaus and Palmer, well. You got to take advantage of those. And then get as many obviously as you can going forward, but it's really important to take advantage of those beyond that. The leaderboard won't matter until Saturday.

Q. Every golfer struggles and things come and go and when you get downward do you think, hey, I beat Mickelson at Riviera, I can play. I mean, does that boost you up a little bit things like that? You had a couple of obviously great tournaments at Riviera, one you won and one you didn't win, but on a great golf course and beating good golfers. Does that mentally?
CHARLES HOWELL, III: Yeah, I mean when I look back and -- yeah, I finished second 13 times. And I look at the courses, this is, I mean, my first year was 2000 and we're already 2011 and it's like that (Indicating).
The thing -- I have never really gotten down, because I love golf. I mean I'm a golf nerd. I could go play 18 more holes right now. So I just love the game and I love playing.
I think that when -- because I don't really view golf as a work or as a job, I just love doing it, I never really get down.
Do I want to play better, absolutely. Do I get frustrated like every golfer, sure. But fortunately I still love the game. And I love it as much as I did when I was a junior. Hopefully that will never change.
But because of that I really never get down on myself because I know if I get down and get frustrated you're sure as hell not going to play better. So that accomplishes nothing.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks a lot, Charles. Good luck the rest of the week.

End of FastScripts

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