Where’s Tiger Woods’ mind at in comeback? This pro has a bagels story.

Charles Howell III has a story about bagels. And if you’re wondering where Tiger Woods’ mind’s at in his comeback, it’s worth your time. 

Some backstory first. Howell’s been a pro since 2000. He’s won three times and cashed over $41 million in PGA Tour paychecks. Of course, when he left Oklahoma State 22 years ago, he had earned none of that, though he wasn’t without an idea of how to get there. 

Be Tiger’s neighbor, silly.

 “So I moved to Orlando right out of college, and one of the reasons to move here was to be around Tiger Woods,” Howell said on this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar. “And, you know, he was the guy. I figured if I want to do this as a pro, let’s hang around maybe the best to ever do it. 

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“From practicing with him and playing with him at home and all that, it was clear that he was better than me at everything. So it wasn’t just his driver, it was the 3-wood, it was the 3-iron, it was chipping, it was putting; like there wasn’t any weakness of this guy’s game at all. And we all remember, say very early on in his career, that he struggled a bit with his short irons, distance control some. And John Cook and Mark O’Meara, who lived here in Orlando, he went to them for help. Within a period of a few months, he was the best in the world at that. So matter what it was, he was going to be better than you, and he just was. And it was so great to play him in practice with him, but it was so humbling in the fact that I felt like every Tour event I went to, I was awful.”

Nevertheless, they practiced together often. And Howell told Subpar hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz that Woods would freely share.

“One-hundred percent,” Howell said. “That’s what he was so great about.”

Which, if you think about it, is also a sign of Woods’ competitiveness: Here, take everything I know, and I’ll still beat you. Then there’s the story about bagels. 

Yes, Woods is cutthroat, even over a breakfast food. 

“I mean, I knew he likes to talk some trash,” Knost said on the podcast. “But when you’re playing at home, does he make you aware that he is better at you at everything?”

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“One-hundred percent he does,” Howell said. “And it never ends. And he loved going to Einstein Bagels at 5:30 in the morning. So he would drag out of bed there, go up there, and it was always like a contest who got there first. Then it was who could eat the most. And then it was who could get back to Isleworth the fastest. Then it was who — and it was everything was a contest with the guy. 

“And we all obviously know his competitive spirit, but it is real and legit. You know, when we played together at home, he wasn’t out on the golf course just to have fun and play. Like it was one ball, it was we’re going to keep a score, and we’re going to see who wins. And it was like that way every day. It was never, hey, let’s just goof around and hit extra balls. It was never that.”

So back to the beginning then. What do bagels tell us about Woods and his comeback? Maybe everything. The 15-time major winner is 15 months from a car crash and multiple injuries, though in April, he returned to play at the Masters, and last week, he played at the PGA Championship. 

On the podcast, Knost asked Howell if he thought Tiger Woods would win again. 

“I do, and I only say that because it is Tiger Woods,” Howell said. “That the more people that doubt him, the more people say that he can’t do it, he lives for that. I mean, that is why he gets up out of bed in the morning. Because, hey, listen, we all know financially he doesn’t need to play. We all know he loves hanging around Charlie and Sam. We all know he has different business ventures. So it’s not like he doesn’t have other things to do and other things to occupy his time. 

“He is only doing this to win. And trust me, there is a deep-seeded part of him in there that he is doing this also to prove people wrong. And when he gets bull-headed in that way, he usually does it.” 

You can view the entire Subpar episode with Charles Howell III below.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.