Jerry Kelly Wins Zurich Classic, Charles Howell III Comes Up Just Short

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2009

AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 26:  Jerry Kelly poses with the trophy after his win during the final round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 26, 2009  in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

Charles Howell III, who had finished tied for second at the Transitions Championship only five weeks  ago, came up just short again yesterday at the Zurich Classic.

While 54-hole leader, Jerry Kelly, was plodding along at even par on the front nine, Charles Howell III came flying out of the gate with five birdies on the front-nine and another at the 11th.

The final round began with Kelly holding a two-stroke lead and his fate in the palm of his hands.

However, the by time Howell reached the 12th hole, the tables had turned.  Howell was now the one holding a two-stroke lead and the tournament appeared to be his for the taking if he could keep it together down the stretch.

Then, over the course of the next two hours, the tournament once again turned on it’s heels.

Howell  bogeyed the 15th and 17th on his way in while Kelly rebounded with birdies on the 11th and 14th before parring his way in for the tournament title and a $1.1 million payday.

“I wasn't as worried about not getting a hot start, because I had done better on on the back than the front.   My caddie, Eric Meller, said the back's yours all week, let's go take it, and he was right.” Kelly said when asked about his mindset while watching Howell take a two-stroke lead on the back-nine.

Charles Howell III is a self proclaimed fanatic when it comes to working on the mechanics of his swing, and many believe this to be the main reason why this highly talented young player has yet to take that next step towards becoming  a perennial winner on the PGA Tour.

However, this year Howell has been working less on the intricacies of his swing and more on just going out and trusting his immense talent and ability on the golf course; and it seems to be paying off.

Howell has had three top-10 finishes this season and has already earned just under $1.4 million, which places him 16th on the PGA Tour’s money list.

Although he has not won since the 2007 Nissan Open, Howell has been close on several occasions.  He has finished second twice and within the top-10 seven times over the past two years.

For a player that spends as much time breaking down every minute aspect of his swing the way Howell does, it has actually been his putter that has really let him down over the past two years.

Howell was 145th on tour in putting last year and is currently ranked 107th in putting this year, and on Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, it was once again Howell’s putting that cost him a win.

Howell missed a 6-foot par putt on the 17th and pulled an eight-foot birdie putt on the 18th that would have given him a share of the lead and most likely forced a sudden death playoff with Jerry Kelly.

“Yeah, it's frustrating. I got up to 15, and you know, had every chance to do it, and I just didn't finish it off.” Howell said of his disappointing finish yesterday.

Despite being unable to close out the tournament yesterday, all-in-all, Howell had another great week and once again demonstrated how close he may be to finally breaking out and becoming the consistently solid player so many have expected him to be since first arriving on the PGA Tour more than nine years ago.