AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Charles Howell III has gone from wondering whether he'd even qualify for the Masters to being one of the tournament's early favorites.
The former Oklahoma State star had played in the last five Masters -- an event held in his hometown of Augusta, Georgia â€“ but struggled in the major last year, shooting rounds of 80 and 84.
He had his worst year on the PGA Tour and tumbled to number 82 in the world. The top 50 get into the Masters, so he had only three months to move up 32 spots.
Howell did that, and much more.
After finishing 2nd to Paul Goydos in the Sony Open and to Tiger Woods at Torrey Pines, he was headed for another runner-up finish at Riviera until Phil Mickelson made bogey on the 72nd hole, and Howell beat him on the third playoff hole.
Now the 27-year-old Howell enters his sixth Masters with confidence, at #15 in the world ranking.
He is considered one of the favorites to challenge Tiger Woods' and Phil Mickelson's recent reign at the Masters.