PLAYA DEL CARMEN – Charles Howell III finally made winning feel easy Sunday at Mayakoba when his putter came to life for an 8-under 63 to win the LIV Golf Invitational by four shots for his first title in the Saudi-funded series.
Howell had seven birdies through 10 holes to take control at El Camaleon, and then got some help when Peter Uihlein had to hit three tee shots on the 12th hole in a triple bogey that removed any drama from the final round.
Howell won in his sixth start in LIV Golf and picked up $4 million, with an additional $1 million for leading his Crushers to a nine-shot victory.
LIV Golf's opening event in a 14-tournament schedule was a happy time for Howell, the 42-year-old from Augusta, Georgia, who won only three times in 23 seasons and 607 starts on the PGA Tour.
“It's great,” Howell said. “It's a big win and we got the team win.”
Two of his three PGA Tour wins were in playoffs, and the other was a two-shot win.
Howell had a bogey-free card, and most of his birdies were in the 8-foot to 15-foot range as he ran off four in a row and rarely made any mistakes.
Howell played 13 times at Mayakoba when it hosted a PGA Tour event from 2007 until last November, his best finish a tie for fourth.
“I've played here many times, so I had an idea what to expect,” Howell said. “Around this place, there's double bogeys everywhere, so you never know.”
He left that to fellow Oklahoma State alum Uihlein, who began the final round sharing the lead with a third Cowboy, Talor Gooch.
Uihlein was still in the mix when he snap-hooked his drive into the woods. He hit a provisional for a lost ball and sent that one into the trees on his right. He found the original ball and after trying to remove a pile of limbs and contemplating a penalty for an unplayable lie, chose to go back to the tee.
It added to a triple bogey, and Uihlein made the most of the final six holes with enough birdies for a 68 to finish alone in second, worth $2,125,000.
Asked what he would differently, Uihlein smiled and said, “Skip the 12th.”
“I'm proud of the way I battled,” he said. “Other than that hole, it was a pretty good day. The reality was other than those three tee shots, it was a pretty solid week off the tee.”
Branden Grace had a 67 and finished third, with $1.5 million. Gooch shot a 76 and finished out of the top 10.
Howell finished at 16-under 268 for his first win since Sea Island at the end of 2019. He now has made just short of $8 million in his six starts with LIV Golf, nearly equal to his previous five seasons on the PGA Tour.
Dustin Johnson, who won the individual and team titles in LIV's debut season last year, closed with a 78 and tied for 35th.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports