Charles Howell III pays tribute to Tiger Woods ahead of PGA Tour milestone

Woods Howell

Charles Howell III has thanked Tiger Woods for ‘giving me a job’ as he prepares to make his 600th start on the PGA Tour.

Woods was at the peak of his powers when Howell turned professional in 2000, leaving Oklahoma State University a year before the end of his degree at the urging of his coach David Leadbetter.

“I was in my apartment in Stillwater, Oklahoma, toward the end of my junior year in college, and David Leadbetter said, ‘Are you ready to turn pro?'” Howell told the PGA Tour’s website ahead of his milestone appearance in the WM Phoenix Open.

“And my heart stopped because I hadn’t even considered it. And David said, ‘Well, you’re a golfer, and golf has never been hotter and booming, and this is what you’re going to do. I think it’s time you turn pro and move on.’

“I still remember that phone call like it was yesterday.”

Woods had recently won the US Open at Pebble Beach by 12 shots when Howell turned professional in July 2000, the first of four consecutive major championship victories which made up the ‘Tiger Slam’.

“Looking back now, having played golf in the Tiger Woods, and I’m going to call it the Phil Mickelson era too, was incredible,” Howell added.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods holds the Claret Jug aloft after winning the 2000 Open Championship at St Andrews (Ben Curtis/PA)

“I’m quite sure that the Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Gary Player era was also special, but to play in the Tiger era with what he did for television and the exposure of it, I mean he gave me a job. I couldn’t have picked a better time.”

In his first 599 PGA Tour starts, Howell has made 461 cuts, recorded 227 top-25 finishes, 97 top-10s and three wins. His lone regret is missing out on more victories after 16 runners-up finishes and 10 third places.

“Looking back, I wish I would have won more,” the 42-year-old from Augusta, Georgia said.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods (centre) with Charles Howell III at Royal Troon ahead of the 2004 Open Championship (Rebecca Naden/PA)

“I have a whole lot of second and third-place finishes. And obviously I still have some years left in me, hopefully, and can find a way to win some more. That’d be the one little regret I have, for sure.”

Howell will partner Louis Oosthuizen and Robert Streb in the first two rounds at TPC Scottsdale, where defending champion Brooks Koepka is joined by six of the world’s top 10, including number one Jon Rahm and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.