Though Charles Howell III only has three PGA Tour wins to his name over more than two decades as a pro, he’s been one of the most consistent performers in the modern era, with 464 cuts made in 606 tournaments, and 98 top 10s.
Those numbers equate to $41.7 million in earnings, putting Howell at an impressive No. 22 on the PGA Tour’s career money list.
But incredibly, even after Howell won the NCAA Division I Individual Championship in 2000, he says making golf his profession wasn’t initially something he considered.
“I’ll never forget the phone call,” Howell began. “I was sitting in my apartment in Stillwater [Okla.] one evening. Phone rings and it’s David Leadbetter, which is nothing unusual, we talked all the time. He said, ‘I think you need to think about turning pro. You’ve done all you need to do in college and amateur golf. It’s time to play for real now.’
“But I’d never even considered it,” Howell continued. “I loved my time in Stillwater and Oklahoma State. I loved Coach [Mike] Holder and playing for him. It was tough. I never even thought about it.”
Howell had one year left before graduating, but ended up turning pro in July for the Canon Greater Hartford Open.
Howell got his career going with a T32 that week, and never looked back.
For more from Howell, including his insights on Tiger Woods’ competitive drive and what it was like sneaking onto Augusta National as a kid, check out the full interview below.