Charles Howell was tired of watching the Masters Tournament on television.
Though he’ll compete for an eighth time at Augusta National Golf Club this week, the Augusta native qualified for the field this year for the first time since 2008. His return to the course Monday for an afternoon practice round brought a smile to his face.
“It’s great to be back, first off. It’s a painful event to watch on TV, but you have to watch it,” he said. “I’m just excited to be back here.”
Howell, who played two practice rounds last week, spent Monday working on the greens with his long putter, a switch he made last year.
“I’d been practicing at home quite a while with it and finally felt more comfortable with it,” he said. “I think it helps. It still doesn’t make the putt for you. You’ve still got to read it and get the speed and all that, but it helps.”
The greens were relatively tame Monday afternoon because of a sunny, warm day with a typical breeze blowing from the southwest. Howell said the greens aren’t at “tournament speed” yet, but he expects a more challenging course after the tournament starts.
Though Howell has struggled in previous Masters – three missed cuts and only one top-25 finish in seven appearances – he said he feels better about his chances this year.
“I think maybe early on I didn’t quite realize how difficult it was and maybe just how difficult the whole venue was and the atmosphere and everything,” he said. “Especially as a kid walking around, it seems really easy on that side of the rope. You hop inside the fence and that’s a little different … I’ve played enough of them now to where I’m a little more comfortable around here, as comfortable as you can be.”