Charles Howell III says the Masters is the major he covets
Charles Howell III talks about Mizuno, the prettiest swings in golf, and whose short game he wants.
Howell is having one of his best seasons ever -- he currently sits 12th in the FedEx Cup points race.
Here's our conversation:
Kyle Porter: What is your role in the "Play Famously" campaign with Mizuno?
Charles Howell III: My involvement started at Doral at the Cadillac Championship. I met some of the individuals there and took them through the tour van -- basically walked them through what players do if we need equipment or if we need a tune-up on things. It's sort of a behind-the-scenes look of the driving range scene and the locker room scene as if they were a professional for a day.
KP: What is Mizuno trying to accomplish with these amateurs?
CHIII: The end goal is that Mizuno is an iron company and it's not just a blade or a better-player company. Mizuno makes what we feel is the best iron in golf and we've made clubs for all handicaps and all playability levels.
Whether you're a tour professional and you want to err towards playing more of a blade style iron or you're a golfer who plays just on the weekend, we have a more forgiving cavity back iron for you as well. The ultimate goal is to shed the image that Mizuno just makes golf clubs for tour professionals. It's to make known that Mizuno makes golf clubs for everyone.
KP: Who else on tour plays Mizuno?
CHIII: Luke Donald, myself, and Jonathan Byrd in America. Then in Europe -- there's a fairly large presence in Europe compared to America -- Marcel Siem is one of the bigger names in Europe. On the LPGA Tour there's Stacy Lewis who's obviously having a heck of a run the last year or so.
KP: Matt Kuchar said earlier this year he felt like there was a 10-year learning curve on the PGA Tour, have you seen the same thing?
CHIII: You know, it's weird, when I first started if you would have asked me that question I would have said "no" because I think when a lot of us turned pro we kind of felt like we had it all figured out. Now looking back on it 10-plus years later, I would agree with him, yes. I feel like it takes some time to learn golf courses, to learn what golf courses you play well.
I think it also takes that amount of time to learn your golf swing, to learn your short game, to learn how to practice. Everybody out here does it differently. Take a guy like Bubba Watson who doesn't take golf lessons and who kind of makes a big deal out of never having had an instructor compared to some guys out here who have a mental coach, a nutritionist, and everything. There are so many different ways to do this that it does take time to find out what sort of recipe is best for each one.
KP: What's the one thing you would take from somebody's game?
CHIII: Probably Brandt Snedeker's putting. When I look at a guy who I've played a lot of golf with who gets the absolute most out of one club, it's Brandt Snedeker's putting, no question.
KP: Did you watch the Masters?
CHIII: I did, I taped it and I watched every night, absolutely.
KP: Do pros root for other guys that they play with? Are you rooting for one guy or another?
CHIII: I think the Masters is the easiest tournament to watch as a fan. I watch the event as a fan -- knowing the golf course fairly well, knowing the tournament and how it all works. As the week goes on, especially come Sunday, I really wanted to see Adam win. Partly because we've kind of grown up together in sort of the same system. I first met Adam when we were 14.
To see a guy from our generation to come through and win a major, I was really rooting for him there at the end. That being said, (Angel) Cabrera is a hell of a player, too, and that would have been a cool story with his son on the bag but I would say in the end I was really pulling for Adam.
KP: Is No. 18 one of the three hardest holes at Augusta?
CHIII: As far as on the tee where you've played so many holes out there with pretty big fairways to be honest. And all of a sudden you walk to the 18th tee and it is like a tunnel of trees. It is narrow.
The tee shot really gets your attention early. That's the one thing that, the way they shoot it (on TV), it's really hard to see that. Then the second shot, it's really hard to believe how uphill it is. It's a good 10-12 yards uphill. Then the shot Cabrera hit to birdie the last to force a playoff, that was just awesome.
KP: In the rain to follow up the Scott 20-footer, who hits that shot?!
CHIII: No kidding, I mean you have to think when Adam made that putt and the roar that came and in the rain ... it's hard-pressed to see Cabrera hit the shot he hit. That was a hell of a shot.
KP: You've won a tournament, what are you thinking about late in a tournament as you're addressing your ball?
For me it's always the shape of the shot. With the front left flag I'm sure [Cabrera's] picturing a draw in there. At that point in time you're so far beyond swing thoughts or any type of thing like that. You're really focused on the shape of the shot. In a way Adam birdieing the last hole made Cabrera's shot a bit easier in the fact that he knew he had to go for it.
Let's say hypothetically that Adam Scott misses that putt, now does Cabrera still hit the same shot or does he play a little more conservatively to make sure he at worst forces a playoff? At that point there, when you know your back's against the wall, you can take that shot on a bit more.
KP: You've had a really consistent year. What's the biggest reason?
CHIII: My short game's gotten better. I've spent more time on the short game and I've been more consistent working on it. I've made it a point every day at home or at tournament sites to really focus on 100 yards and in. You can always criticize somebody's golf swing, you can always criticize someone's ball-hitting, you can always find fault there. But if you really, really are solid from 100 yards and in, I think that's the best way to be consistent time in, time out.
KP: Who has the prettiest swing on tour?
CHIII: This comes as a convenient answer but obviously Adam Scott has a fantastic golf swing. I think Louis Oosthuizen has a wonderful golf swing. Charl Schwartzel, another South African. I'd say those three guys right there, it's hard to fault any of those three guys.
KP: Doesn't Scott have Tiger's 2000 swing?
CHIII: It's pretty close.
KP: Was that a conscious thing? Or did it just happen because they're built similarly?
CHIII: It's interesting, when I've asked Adam about it he obviously has looked up to Tiger like a lot of us have and studied a bunch of video of him and film of him. Obviously he had Butch Harmon as his coach there for quite some time so he really followed the path of it.
KP: Rank the four majors in order of which one you want to win most.
CHIII: Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, PGA.
KP: Masters just because you grew up there?
CHIII: Partly yes, because I grew up there. But also it's the only major we play in that it's the same course every year. It's one of the few golf courses in the world where even the average golf fan knows what No. 12 is and knows what No. 13 is and knows what No. 15 is. It's a special place for many reasons. The Masters is pretty far out even in front of the U.S. Open, it's a clear No. 1.
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