On Friday night when Charles Howell III went to bed at the Wyndham Championship he was 6 under and just three back of Patrick Reed's lead. He was to have a late tee time on Saturday (or late enough that thinking about winning wasn't an absurdity).
When he went to the course on Saturday morning he found himself in 149th place and out of the tournament.
He played an illegal driver during his second-round 68.
Now when I think "illegal driver" I think rocket boosters on the back, maybe something the size of a baseball bat. Howell's, according to a PGA Tour statement, was nothing of the sort:
"The issue centered on a weight port cover near the toe on the bottom of Howell's TaylorMade driver that came off while he was hitting balls prior to the second round. There is a hole under the cover that is used to put hot wax in, and without the cover, the driver has a hole in it which makes it non-conforming."
That sounds, uh, pretty technical.
But it still kept Howell from collecting a minimum of $10,000 -- the amount last place finisher Kevin Chappell won.
But what if he would have shot two even-par 70s on the weekend -- not a ridiculous reach given how well Howell was playing.
Well then the mistake cost him more like $55,000.
And if he would have backed up his second-round 68 with two more of those?
Somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000.
A miniscule and unfortunate, but extremely costly, oversight.