Young American star Howell to play Australian Open

BY | Australasian PGA Tour | 2002 Australian Open | Preview | 30 Oct 2002
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Australian Golf Union Executive Director Colin Phillips confirmed on Monday that 23 year-old American star Charles Howell III will play in next month’s Holden Australian Open. Howell adds further class to a field already containing US PGA champion Rich Beem, Kenny Perry, Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, Craig Parry, Adam Scott, Stephen Leaney, Greg Chalmers, Aaron Baddeley, and defending champion Stuart Appleby. The $1.5 million Open will be played from 21-24 November at Melbourne’s Victoria Golf Club.

Howell is currently ranked 15th on the US Tour money list with 2002 earnings of US$2,162,747. He is 35th on the Official World Golf Ranking.

The American has had 6 top-6 finishes on the US Tour this year, with his best results coming at the Reno-Tahoe Open in August (T3), and earlier this month at the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill where he finished 2 shots ahead of Scott Hoch and Brandt Jobe to record his maiden US Tour victory.

Last year, in an attempt to compile enough money to bypass the Qualifying School, Howell played as a non-member on the US Tour purely courtesy of sponsors’ invitations. So successful was he that he jumped into the top 50 on the Official World Rankings after making US$1,520,632 – a performance significant enough to prompt the US Tour to amend its regulations. In what’s being referred to as the ’Charles Howell Rule’, the Tour effectively increased the number of events in which a player can compete courtesy of sponsor’s invitations.

Howell played in the 2001 Holden Australian Open at The Grand, finishing tied for 9th. He grew up only 3 kilometres from Augusta National Golf Club, whilst his coach David Leadbetter is adamant that “he’s going to be the next superstar in a very short time.” He is currently ranked 6th in driving distance on the US Tour.

In making the announcement, Mr Phillips expressed his delight at securing Howell’s signature. “Charles is one of those players who’s great for the game – he plays aggressively and is a genuine entertainer who really attracts the galleries to him. And make no mistake, he can play. The media in the US have been building him right up and last year at The Grand we got a glimpse of what he can do. He’s a player who really could be anything.”

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