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Charles Howell III learning from Tiger Woods

American Charles Howell III, second twice this season in his first three PGA Tour starts, plans to take a leaf out of Tiger Woods's book at this week's Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Howell chased the world number one hard at last week's Buick Invitational outside San Diego before having to settle for the 10th runner-up spot of his career.

"If you look at Tiger as he came down the stretch on Sunday, he got into some holes where he was really just trying to get the ball in the fairway," Howell told reporters at the TPC Scottsdale on Tuesday.

"He almost went into a three-quarter or a punchy-type shot. That's a lot more instinctive than it is mechanics, and that's the direction that I'm slowly trying to get to.

"I grew up with mechanics and I love mechanics," added the 27-year-old from Augusta, Georgia, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the 2002 Michelob Championship.

"I've got a pretty good idea of what it was, if something goes wrong. So now, instead of working on positions all day, I'll spend another section of my practice time working on draws and fades and highs and lows."

Howell blew a two-shot lead with nine holes remaining at the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier this month, a bitter experience for him to process compared to last week's Buick Invitational.

"The Sony stung a lot more because I didn't play well on the back nine, and the whole week I had played the back nine better than the front nine," he said, referring to his tie for second behind fellow American Paul Goydos.

"I really liked my position with nine holes to play there and just didn't play well coming in.

"The complete opposite happened at San Diego, I was actually enjoying playing," added Howell, who put pressure on Woods with four birdies in six holes after the turn in the final round before his bid for victory ended.

"I was continuing to hit good shot after good shot against Tiger. It was much more of a positive there."

Howell faces a reasonably strong field this week at Scottsdale, where seven of the world's top 20 will be in action.

Twice champion and fifth-ranked Phil Mickelson is playing, along with world number seven Vijay Singh, U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (10), Trevor Immelman (12), Davis Love III (17), David Toms (18) and 2002 winner Chris DiMarco (20).

American DiMarco will be making his first appearance on the 2007 PGA Tour, having competed on the 'Gulf Swing' of the European Tour for the last two weeks.

Big-hitting American J.B. Holmes defends the title he won by seven strokes last year as a PGA Tour rookie, coasting home with a five-under-par 66 on the Stadium Course at the TPC of Scottsdale.

Regardless of who wins this week, the Phoenix Open crowds will again deliver the biggest party on tour.

Half a million fans are expected and most of them will savor the grandstand atmosphere around the par-three 16th, the noisiest hole in golf.

February 1, 2007

 




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