With career prize money of $44m (£37m) dollars, 23rd in the PGA Tour rich list, Charles Howell III was hardly heading for the workhouse. However, it took him 21 years to bank it. In one super productive afternoon at the LIV Golf League’s season opener in Mayakoba, Mexico a final round 63 clipped the march of the overnight leaders to scoop the $4m first prize.
If that were not bullion enough, his effort also sealed the team event for his Crushers squad, contributing a further $750k to his total from the additional $3m pot. With a wheelbarrow full of cash there was barely room for his clubs in the courtesy car, his $4.75m (£4m) over three days surpassing anything he earned in any one season during two decades on the PGA Tour.
“Obviously, I don’t think you ever see a win coming,” Howell said. “I’ve played in a lot of golf tournaments in my life, and I haven’t won a lot of them, and you have the doubts and the feelings, will you ever win again. To do it against this competition with these guys standing up here is more than I could ever dream of. I’m extremely thankful.”
A penny for the thoughts of Chris Kirk, whose simultaneous victory across the Gulf of Mexico at the Honda Classic in Florida, was worth only $1.5m. Still a decent whack, but not LIV money, which explains why 43-year-old Howell III and so many others chose to skip the chorus line for main stage money.
This was only the fourth victory of his career. Yes he was tested over 54 and not 72 holes but that does not change the Sunday dynamic. It is still the final day and brings with it exactly the same dynamic tension, inviting those in the pack to take advantage of the anxieties that plague the leaders. Furthermore, with only one top-20 player in the Honda field, the LIV line-up was stronger.
Howell III started the final day a stroke behind overnight leaders Peter Uihlein and Talor Gooch. The burden of leadership fried the performance of Gooch absolutely and broke Uihlein at the 12th, where he posted a triple bogey seven to fall briefly back to third.
Howell III broke the leaders with six birdies in his opening eight holes to power three clear of Uihlein, who at that point had done little wrong. Gooch played himself out of contention with two outward bogeys and four in six over the closing holes. The shotgun start shaped the drama since the rise and fall happened simultaneously, the blows landing on the participants like punches in a ring.
The series moves to Tucson next with the LIV party gaining momentum.