Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

Howell likes Woods' chances at Augusta

March 23, 2009

Surprise, surprise. Charles Howell III, who's in the process of reconstituting his golf game under the tutelage of Sea Island, Ga.-based instructor, Todd Anderson, has installed his buddy, Tiger Woods, as the early favorite at Augusta National.

Howell's reasoning has little to do with the emotion of Woods' return and everything to do with He Who Is Without Peer's repaired left knee. Howell pointed out that, in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Woods went almost entirely to a fade off the tee because it was too painful to hit against his left side. The shooting pains caused him to reflexively come out of the shot. Now that the leg is fixed, Woods can play a draw again and the high hook is a big advantage at Augusta National.

In the meantime, Howell, who grew up playing across the fence at Augusta CC, will continue to try to play his way back into the Masters.

"I do like the way things are going," said Howell, who put on almost 20 pounds in the off-season and posted his best finish, a T-2, in the Transitions Championship. "I love the work I'm doing with Todd. Honestly, we're just working on me being able to work the ball both ways. For the longest time there I always felt comfortable playing a straight shot or a draw and I never felt comfortable playing a cut. I had trouble with right flags. I had trouble with right-to-left winds. We've worked on both ways trying to get the club more out in front of me so I'm able to do that."

-- Jim Moriarty