Howell Opens With 64, Leads RSM by 2 Shots

Charles Howell III was inspired to see 40-year-old Matt Kuchar win last week on the PGA Tour in the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

Howell, 39, shot a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 on the Plantation Course to take a two-stroke lead over J.J. Spaun and defending champion Austin Cook after one round of the RSM Classic in chilly conditions at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga.

This is the last of eight events in the Fall portion of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around schedule.

“(Kuchar) winning was encouraging, although you still have young guys like Cameron Champ and Bryson DeChambeau having unbelievable starts to their careers,” said Howell, who has won twice on the PGA Tour, but not since the 2007 Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades near Los Angeles.

“I was kind of surprised waking up this morning to find it cold and windy. I didn’t miss being on the Seaside Course, was fortunate to be playing on the Plantation.”

Howell birdied five holes on the back nine, where Spaun, from Los Angeles and San Diego State had four birdies in his bogey-free 66, which Cook matched with three birdies on each side.

Said Spaun: “My ball-striking was pretty good and I drove the ball well. I have god vibes around here and it’s always a good week.”

Tournament host Davis Love III, 54, posted a 67 and is tied for fourth with Aaron Baddeley of Australia and Chase Wright.

Brian Harman and Peter Uihlein, the only players in the top 10 who opened on the Seaside Course, both totaled 68 and are in a big tie for seventh with Jason Gore of Valencia and Pepperdine, Whee Kim of South Korea, Patton Kizzire, Brendan Todd, Ted Potter Jr., Sunjae Im of South Korea and Champ, from Sacramento.

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