Home » Charles Howell III had a long PGA Tour career. Now he’s sticking

Charles Howell III had a long PGA Tour career. Now he’s sticking

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Charles Howell III says it was never about the money when he joined Saudi-funded LIV Golf in July 2022 during its inaugural season. A few eyes rolled, no doubt, especially when he borrowed from the book of (Greg) Norman that golf can be a force for good.

Howell mentioned his 22 years on the PGA Tour ($42 million in career earnings) and the 609 tournaments he played (two as an amateur). It was something different, and the 44-year-old certainly has not looked back.

He has not played any other tournament but LIV Golf since joining. Howell is not eligible for any of the majors and did not attempt U.S. Open qualifying the last two years.

That’s true for some of the other players who defected from the PGA Tour who had exemptions to all four of the majors.

Dustin Johnson has played only the six majors outside of LIV. Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau have played seven times — six majors and the Saudi International. Brooks Koepka has played eight times, once in Oman on the Asian Tour and the other at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, where he has won twice.

And then there’s Patrick Reed, who said upon joining that the LIV schedule would allow him to spend more time with his children. In addition to the 26 LIV Golf events since joining, Reed has played 15 times in events that count toward the Official World Golf Ranking.

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It’s still down from the 30-plus tournaments he used to average per year.

LIV Golf plays its fifth event of the season this week at Trump National Doral, a tuneup for 13 players in the field who will be at the Masters next week.

MASTERS FIELD

The Masters currently has 88 players in the field, with one spot available if the winner of the Valero Texas Open is not already eligible.

If it stays at 88 — a possibility considering the Texas Open field has 30 players already exempt — that would be the same number as 2023. So much for the notion the field is shrinking with LIV players not getting world ranking points.

The concern was only 77 players exempt at the end of last year. But the start of 2024 featured eight players earning spots by winning on the PGA Tour, three of them rookies. Only five players earned Masters invitations by winning early in 2023.

Also, the field currently is evenly split between Americans and international players — 44 each, the same as the previous two Masters.

FREE LODGING

The inaugural FM Global Championship is the latest LPGA tournament offering a welcome perk to the players — free lodging.

FM Global says the 144 players who compete in the Aug. 29-Sept. 1 tournament at the TPC Boston will have “exclusive access to a first-class property” a short distance from the course in Norton, Massachusetts. FM Global said it would cover all costs.

When the PGA Tour was at TPC Boston, most players stayed in Providence, Rhode Island.

“By offering athletes at the FM Global Championship complimentary accommodations, we hope to make their experience a little easier — so they can focus on the competition and playing the best they can,” said David Johnson, senior vice president at FM Global.

This is the fourth LPGA event to offer free lodging, joining the JM Eagle LA Championship, the Mizuho Americas Open in New Jersey and this week’s T-Mobile Match Play in Las Vegas.

TGL NEW YORK

The New York squad for the new TGL tech-infused golf league that starts next year has native New Yorker Cameron Young, along with a pair of Californians and an English major champion.

Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler, both from the San Diego area, and U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick also will be part of the New York Golf Club, owned primarily by New York Mets owner Steve Cohen.

That leaves San Francisco still to fill out its four-man team, Tiger Woods to add three players to his Jupiter, Florida, team and Boston to find a replacement for Tyrrell Hatton, who bolted to LIV Golf.

OLYMPIC UPDATE

Golf Digest has confirmed a Spanish golf website report that PGA champion Brooks Koepka and recent LIV Golf addition Tyrrell Hatton have withdrawn their names from qualifying for the Paris Olympics this summer.

Koepka and Hatton both would have been long shots to make their respective U.S. and Great Britain teams because they only have access to world ranking points at the four majors. Olympic qualifying for golf is based on the June 17 world ranking.

Koepka currently is at No. 31, making him 18th among Americans in the world ranking. The top four (provided they are in the top 15) qualify. Hatton currently is behind Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood.

Keita Nakajima, meanwhile, won his first European tour event at the Hero Indian Open and moved into Japan’s second spot behind Hideki Matsuyama.

Nakajima, the former No. 1 amateur in the world, is at No. 78 in the world ranking. Ryo Hisatsune, who is playing in his first Masters next week, is at No. 86, while Rikuya Hoshino is at No. 88.

JAEGER’S OMEN

Stephan Jaeger reached into his golf bag before the final round of the Houston Open and saw a sign that it might be a good day.

His wife made him three ball markers. One has the name of his 16-month-old son, Fritz, with a four-leaf clover. Another is of his dog. The third one is for his father — it says, “Papa Klaus” — who died two years ago the week of The Players Championship.

“I always pull them out before the round,” Jaeger said Sunday after his one-shot victory over Scottie Scheffler. “Whoever I pull out, that’s the one I use for the day. It was my son the first three days, and it was my dad today. I just kind of smiled. That was my good omen for the day, for sure.”

Jaeger said his father’s death was a low point in his life, mainly because he was playing terribly. But that also sparked a turnaround.

“The silver lining in that story is my son was conceived that week,” he said. “That was kind of you lose a life and you gain a life, right? He would be rolling over right now happy.”

DIVOTS

Jon Rahm says he is going to a zone defense. That was his way of announcing on X that he and his wife are expecting their third child. He did not say when the baby was due. … Nelly Korda is the first player since Yani Tseng in 2012 to have three LPGA victories through March. … Stephan Jaeger became the fourth German to win on the PGA Tour, following Alex Cejka, Martin Kaymer and Bernhard Langer. … Greg Chalmers got into the PGA Tour Champions event as a qualifier, tied for ninth at The Galleri Classic and earned a spot in the Invited Celebrity Classic the week after the Masters.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Cameron Young earned more money ($915,000) for his runner-up finish in the Valspar Championship than Nelly Korda ($900,000) for her last three LPGA victories combined.

FINAL WORD

“I love golf. I’ve always loved golf. Sometimes it’s harder than other days.” — Nelly Korda.

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AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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