Looking for No. 2
By BOB HARIG
Published February 1, 2007
Charles Howell is still searching for his elusive second victory, but he's getting closer. And that is saying something after a rocky 2006 season in which he dumped David Leadbetter, then went back to him.
Returning to his longtime instructor and extensive work on his short game have paid off with two runnerup finishes, including Sunday to Tiger Woods at the Buick Invitational in San Diego.
"I think I panicked a little bit last year and quit working with David and went working with other people," said Howell, 27, whose lone victory came in 2002. "I sort of went looking elsewhere. I did get frustrated last year. Didn't really know if I was on the right path or not, which is why I went looking for other golf teachers. A lot of time, it's a good thing to work with a different teacher, but it turned out for me that it wasn't the best thing.
" ... But I think looking back on it, it makes me 100 percent comfortable with where I am, working with David and his assistants. Instead of changing my swing, I'm going to do more work with what I have."
Howell has moved up to 43rd in the Official World Golf Ranking and if he remains in the top 50 through March, he will earn an invitation to the Masters, played in his hometown of Augusta, Ga.
The LPGA Tour season does not begin for two more weeks, but a number of players are getting a head start in Australia, including Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, who begins her third year as a pro. This week's tournament is the AFS Women's Australian Open and next week it's the ANZ Ladies Masters. Lincicome then flies to Hawaii for the opener, the SBS Open, Feb. 15-17 at Turtle Bay.
The PGA and Champions tours are headed to the bay area. The Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Feb. 16-18 at the TPC of Tampa Bay in Lutz has commitments from 32 of the top 33 money winners from last year's Champions money list. The PODS Championship on March 5-8 at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor has given sponsor's exemptions to major-championship winners John Daly, Bernhard Langer and Lee Janzen, as well as former tournament winner John Huston, Greg Kraft and Rocco Mediate.