September 17, 2006
Charlie Howell - Can He Win?
Howell, experiencing a tough year in which he has changed his swing and his coach, had a 4-under 68 to match Ben Curtis at 12-under 204 for the tournament. Curtis had his second consecutive 69 after starting the tournament with a 66.
Curtis, who has worn a Steelers shirt and cap for three consecutive days to fulfill an endorsement contract, kept his share of the lead by sinking a tough 9-footer for par on the par-3 17th. He had a chance to take the sole lead, but a 13-footer for birdie slipped by the left side of the hole on the par-4 18th.
Howell, who has won nearly $12 million on the PGA TOUR but is only No. 81 on the money list this year, picked up four strokes in three holes with the best run of the day. After consecutive bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 dropped him to 8 under, he birdied Nos. 14 and 15 and dropped a long putt for an eagle 3 on No. 16.
“I hung in there and I have a chance to win,” said Howell, who hasn’t finished in the top 30 since a tie for second at New Orleans in April. “I’ve been through my share of swing changes, and I’ve had an iffy year.”
Curiously, Howell is contending for first PGA TOUR victory since the 2002 Michelob Championship at a resort, Nemacolin Woodlands, where a golf academy is named for renowned swing coach David Leadbetter. Howell parted ways with Leadbetter before undergoing his latest swing change.