ORLANDO, Fla. — Charles Howell said the swing changes he’s been working on since October with former PGA Tour player and current teacher Grant Waite haven’t all been put into play.
“The biggest changes we’ve made have been difficult to take from the range to the course,” Howell said Saturday after shooting his second 4-under-par 68 in a row at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge to get into contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. “But we have spent a lot of time putting and that’s improved.”
Howell’s third round was a great example. He drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the first hole, knocked in one from 15 feet for birdie on the second, and went on to birdie four of his first five holes to get onto the first page of the leaderboard at 7-under-par 209. Howell enters the final round four shots behind leader Tiger Woods.
“You don’t expect to birdie the first two holes out here – especially No. 2,” he said, referring to the long par-3.
Howell responded to his only bogey of the day at No. 8 with a 15-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He then parred out.
Howell said Waite’s experience as a player and his record as an accurate hitter motivated him to begin working with him.
“He knows how to communicate and not over-do it. He makes things simpler,” Howell said.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational is Howell’s last start before the Masters Tournament. He will spend next week practicing, including two rounds he has planned at Augusta National.
Everyone knows what winning the Masters would mean to him. But Howell said winning Palmer’s tournament, in his adopted hometown of Orlando, would also hold great meaning.
“When you’ve only won twice (on the PGA Tour) any tournament feels like a big thing, if you want to be honest,” Howell said. “The Isleworth club championship is a big thing. Sure, it would be big. Mr. Palmer is a big part of Orlando.”