Howell Ends Long Drought With Playoff Win Over Mickelson

Sunday, February 18th 2007, 6:38 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) Charles Howell III finally ended that nasty habit of finishing second, making three clutch pars in a playoff that delivered a dramatic victory over Phil Mickelson in the Nissan Open on Sunday.

Howell closed with a 6-under 65 and got into a playoff when Mickelson bogeyed the 18th hole. Howell put away the two-time Masters champion with his third straight par save, holing a 3-foot putt on the 14th hole and raising his head to the sky in utter relief.

It was only the second victory of his career, and Howell had been haunted by nine runner-up finishes since winning the now-defunct Michelob Championship in the fall of 2002. He already had two runner-up finishes in four starts this year, including three weeks ago against Tiger Woods down the coast at Torrey Pines.

Mickelson, bidding for his second straight victory, had control throughout the playoff until he opted for putter short of the 14th green, it took a hop leaving the blade and stopped 10 feet short of the cup.

Howell earned $936,000 and is atop the PGA Tour money list for the first time in his career.