Even with pro golf's infusion of young studs, the game is seeing a resurgence from many of its top veterans of late, Matt Kuchar and Lee Westwood being the latest examples. They each snapped a long victory drought (that just so happened to be the exact same length) with their wins on the PGA and European Tours last Sunday, showing that some of their best golf is still in front of them.
Charles Howell III, who will turn 40 next June, took note of Westwood and Kuchar's performances last week, and came up with an impressive one of his own on Thursday at the RSM Classic. Despite some blustery conditions, the two-time tour winner fired a nearly flawless first-round 64 on Sea Island's Plantation Course, which gives him a two-shot lead over J.J. Spaun and defending champion Austin Cook.
"We're used to seeing a lot of the young guys win, you know the Cameron Champs and the Brysons [DeChambeau] come out," said Howell III. "Obviously, they're having unbelievable starts to their career, but it is nice to see guys our age and our generation do well and I think it's encouraging."
Howell III, a Georgia native, is plenty familiar with both the Plantation and Seaside Courses at Sea Island, and it showed on Thursday. He hit all 14 fairways and all 18 greens (a first in his career, per Golf Channel's Justin Ray), and had he just made a few more putts (30 total), it could have been a really low number. Still, Howell III said it was the best round he's ever played on the Plantation Course.
"It kind of surprised me a little bit, waking up today with this cold and wind and all that. I was fortunate to be on Plantation today, I was not missing Seaside."
Spaun and Cook's 66s also came on the Plantation Course, where Cook posted an opening-round 66 a year ago during his victory. That brought back some good memories on Thursday.
"Who knows what the rest of the week will hold, but it feels good to play well again," said Cook, whose last finish inside the top 10 came at the Greenbrier this past July.
Three players are tied for third at five under, including the tournaments host Davis Love III, keeping with the theme of the old guys takeover. Cameron Champ is among a large group four shots off the lead following his first-round 68.
Up-to-the-minute leader board and other scoring information for the 2018 RSM Classic, Sea Island Resort, St. Simons Island, Georgia, Nov. 15-18, 2018