Tuesday, April 04, 2006

At Least One Player Likes The Changes At Augusta National

Nicklaus and Palmer said they don't like the changes at Augusta but that's okay because according to the official website of The Masters Tournament, Charles Howell III likes them. Phew! Thank God for that, now that we know Charles likes the changes, lets all rejoice.

Apparently, the folks at Augusta don't care that two of the greats from the game have criticized the changes, they're forging ahead anyway. Why not, they have Charles Howell III on their side.

Below is an article by Art Stricklin on Howell and what he had to say about the course and the Tournament:

Of all the tournaments Charles Howell III has played in his young career, none means more to him than this week at the Masters.

The Augusta native is playing in his fifth Tournament, but said anytime he can tee it up at home; playing at Augusta National has special meaning.

"This golf course doesn't have the (same) feel to me as a U.S. Open or a British Open or a PGA," he said. "They are major championships, they are very important and they are played on great golf courses, but it's not the Masters."

Howell grew up next door at Augusta Country Club where his dad is a member and has played an estimated 150 rounds at Augusta National, more than any other PGA Tour professional under the age of 30. He first played Augusta National at age 10 and shot a 79 from the member's tees.

While he now lives in Orlando, Howell still spends ample time in his hometown and has given his hearty endorsement to the recent course changes.

"I think the changes are fantastic," said the Augusta native. "To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if in the years to come there are more changes to it. As much as people talk about how long the golf course is now, there are still longer ones out there.

"They could set this golf course up so hard that it would make you just cry, but on Saturday and Sunday, they allow for birdies and eagles and the occasional double-bogey for those trying to make those runs."

Howell has seen the gradual evolutional of the course over the years and said the Masters Tournament committee is simply reacting to changes in technology.

"If you're going to win the Masters, it's going to be a hard task," he said.

" It's a major. It's the Masters and that's the way Bobby Jones would have wanted it."

Toward that end, Howell also hopes the chance to one day, some day, win a Masters will come before his career ends.

"I want to win this thing more than anybody," he said. "That's part of the challenge."

His best finish, at Augusta has been a tie for 13th in 2004. When he missed the 36-hole cut last year, Howell chose to revamp his game, now working with Brian Mogg.

When Howell left Oklahoma State University in 2000 and turned professional, many people predicted he would already have won a Masters by now. Named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2001, he has won one event, the 2002 Michelob Championship, and hasn't reached the lofty goals he set for himself.

"At the end of the day, it's about winning tournaments, and then taking it a step further," he said. "It's about winning majors."

"People talk about the majors Jack (Nicklaus) won and they don't talk about how many regular Tour events he won, and that's what it's going to be like with Tiger and Phil."

He admitted getting too technical with his game. "I could make Nick Faldo seem like a feel player," he joked. He has worked on spending more time on the course and learning how to get the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes.

"I don't go out there and work on five different things on the range. Everybody knows that the top five players in the world have the five best short games and that's what I'm working on," Howell said. "I'd give myself a B for my career so far."

To achieve his goals, he will rely on his local knowledge gleaned from his large number of rounds, his many friends who are members and the caddie's eager to share their knowledge.

"There are just some holes out here where the ball does things it just can't (seem to) do," he said. "The local caddies always seem to know everything. They always show me a putt or new shot, with the way the ball rolls with the grain or the slope.

"It will blow your mind what the ball will do. Until you play here, you just can't appreciate the difficulty."In 14 official rounds at the Masters, Howell's stroke average is 73.0. He best non-competitive round is 67. That's further proof, he said, of the mental difficulty Augusta National holds on him.

"On the first tee on Thursday, I was more nervous than I've ever been on the golf course," he admitted. "Parts of my body shook I didn't know would shake. You can say it's the best week of the year."

Howell has had plenty of those great weeks, but for 2006, he is looking for something more. He'd like a high finish, a late Sunday run, and the wish to join Larry Mize as the only Augusta natives to win the Tournament.

"It would mean more to me than anyone out here," he said.

Let's see how the changes affect his game.

Golf Times


Blogger dave said...

I guess he is one important dude; TO them.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Mattb said...

They had to rally around someone I guess.

11:13 PM  

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