Category archive: Charles Howell III
HUMBLE, Texas -- The Shell Houston Open marks the last week for players to get inside the top 50 in the world rankings for an automatic invitation to the Masters.
Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, and Charles Howell III, an Augusta native, are two players in the Houston field with hope that good finishes here will help them lock up a place in the year's first major.
Ogilvy is 50th on the official world ranking, but he could fall out that position with a poor showing in Houston. On Thursday, Ogilvy, who had a tie for fourth in the 2011 Masters, shot a 1-over-par 73. With a missed cut, the 35-year-old Australian could put himself at risk of missing his first Masters since 2005.
Howell, who grew up playing next door to Augusta National at the Augusta Country Club, is a sentimental favorite to make it into his hometown event, where he has played eight previous times. After a solid 3-under 69 Thursday, he is positioned well to get into contention on the weekend to go after the top-5 finish that he probably needs to leap into the top 50. Howell is 57th on the ranking.
A mother's gift to her son
D.A. Points is far from a household name in the world of golf. But the 36-year-old former University of Illinois star is very well respected around the tour.
In 2011, he had a breakthrough win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
On Thursday, Points made nine birdies using a Ping Anser putter that he took out of his mother's golf bag when he was 11 or 12 years old.
He was the first-round leader after an 8-under 64.
Points used the putter for a while after turning pro in 1999. He treated it like an old girlfriend, going back and forth to it for years.
Eventually, he had Ping refurbish the putter, adding some weight to the toe and heel.
Points was putting so badly coming into this week that he decided to return to his old muse.
With seven missed cuts in nine events on the year, Points is hoping the magic in his mother's wand stays with him through the weekend.
Could all the good luck with the putter prompt Mama Points to ask for it back?
"She might now," Points said. "I've had it for a long time. I think she's been praying so badly for me to make some putts, she's probably happy for me to have it."
The duck man comes forth
I was standing on the Redstone driving range Thursday afternoon watching Angel Cabrera hit balls. It's hard to miss his waddling, duck-like gait, slouched posture over the ball and the great tempo that helped him to Masters and U.S. Open titles.
But I had trouble recalling the last time he had done anything since winning those majors. The 43-year-old Argentinian hasn't had a tour win since taking that 2009 Masters in a playoff over Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry. He hasn't even had a top 10 on tour since the 2011 McGladrey Classic.
In 2013, he made only $283,385 in 20 events. Last week at Bay Hill, he missed the cut with rounds of 80-77.
On Thursday, Cabrera rode his way to the Houston leaderboard with a bogey-free, 6-under-par 66. Maybe this is the round that could launch him back to prominence.
With the Masters two weeks off, a good showing in Houston might give him the confidence he needs to shine at a place where he solidified his place in history.
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.
This week's tournament: The Sony Open of Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.
Horse for the Course
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Brian Gay
Dude hasn't missed a cut here since 2000! He's got three top-10s, and his worst finish was a tie for 54th. I'd say that's a pretty solid horse for this course. This is not a bomber's course which plays perfectly for a guy whose average off the tee is only 278 yards.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Davis Love III
At 48, DL3 is ancient by regular tour standards, but he can still play, especially at tour stalwarts like Waialae, where he shot a 60 in the first round of the 1994 Sony Open. He would finish second that year and since then he's had four top-5s in the season's first full-field event.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Jerry Kelly
A regular at Waialae, Kelly hasn't missed the tournament in years and has six top-10s, including a victory, in his past 13 appearances.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Zach Johnson
Waialae Country Club doesn't favor the bombers, which is perfect for the short-hitting Johnson, winner of the 2009 Sony Open in Hawaii.
Michael Collins: Michael Thompson
After missing the cut in his first try in 2011, the lessons he learned were put to really good use and resulted in a tie for sixth last year. Expect another solid week from this Alabama alum still on a high from another national championship.
Farrell Evans: Tommy Gainey
Golf's blue-collar man had a tie for sixth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. His game is sharp, and he's ready to play as many as it takes to earn his first trip to the Masters.
Bob Harig: Dustin Johnson
He doesn't have much time to regroup after his win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, but he comes in on a roll and seemingly geared up for a big season after his seventh PGA Tour victory.
Kevin Maguire:Patrick Reed
The Monday qualifier extraordinaire doesn't have to go that route this week now that he's got his tour card for 2013. Coming off his Q-school performance, expect a fast start to the season for Reed.
Michael Collins: Ben Kohles
Two starts, two wins last year on the Web.com Tour, so what else would we expect other than a top-5 finish on his first start as a member of the PGA Tour? He's not the longest hitter out there, but on this par-70 course, you don't have to be.
Farrell Evans: Luke Guthrie
In 2012, the 22-year-old former Illinois star won twice on the Web.com Tour in just 10 starts. Those back-to-back victories came after four top-10s in his first five starts after turning pro in the summer. He had a tie for fifth at the John Deere Classic and now he's a rookie on the biggest stage in golf. So don't be surprised to see him contend this week at the Sony.
Bob Harig: Russ Cochran
The Champions Tour player Monday qualified for the event, which is a victory in itself. He's using the opportunity to gear up for next week's Champions Tour opener on the Big Island.
Kevin Maguire: Tim Clark
After battling injuries and what will surely be talk about the anchor ban, Clark's had success at the Sony Open in the past, finishing T-2 as recently as 2011.
Michael Collins: Steve Marino
Coming off a year of injury where he only made six starts and missed four of those cuts, Marino is ready to do something only one other player has done (Jerry Kelly in '02) since this became the Sony Open in 1999 ... make this event his first PGA Tour victory.
Farrell Evans: Dustin Johnson
If DJ can win Sony, he will have played 126 holes in seven days. His caddie, Bobby Brown, might not love slogging that heavy staff bag around Waialae, but his boss will have a nice, easy stride while shooting four sub-70 rounds to get his eighth career win.
Bob Harig: Charles Howell III
Making his 13th straight appearance in the tournament, Howell is determined to get off to a fast start and qualify for the Masters. He tied for second last year and has six top-5s in the tournament.
Kevin Maguire: Tommy Gainey
Despite never playing well at the Sony Open, the man who led the PGA Tour in 2012 in total driving (combining ranks for both distance and accuracy) is coming off a strong showing at Kapalua and will ride that wave all the way to his second PGA Tour victory.