With one slammed club against the ground, the seventh tee box at Lions Municipal Golf Course felt every bit of vitriol that ran through Seger Howell’s body.
He had just pulled his tee shot long and left at the short par-3 — Howell’s 16th hole of the day — further continuation of a swing that was beginning to betray him deep into the back nine of Friday’s second round of the Austin Men’s City Championship.
Howell seemingly decided to let every ounce of frustration out on his poor iron right then and there. After all, this is a frustrating game, in case you weren’t aware.
“That has not happened for a while,” Howell said later. “I used to be that way, but it’s been subsided for the past year or so. But that was just frustration. I was just not happy at that moment.”
But just as surely as he had put himself into yet another tricky situation on his back nine, Howell steadied himself and rectified his mishap. A precise chip shot led to a routine par, when every indication pointed to Howell letting his control of the tournament — and his emotions — slip away late Friday afternoon.
Howell righted the ship at the par-5 8th when he made a testy, short birdie putt. A closing par at the ninth — his final hole of the day — ensured Howell of a 2-under 69, maintaining a two-shot lead in the Austin Men’s City Championship at 7 under.
“I played all right today,” said Howell, a senior on the Concordia University golf team. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. It was OK. I hung around. I’m just happy to keep the lead into the weekend. I think I’ll be fine.
“I was definitely battling a little bit coming down the stretch. I’m glad I just made a birdie on the second to last one to kind of ease it.”
Howell took command of the Men’s City after a 5-under 66 in the opening round at Roy Kizer Golf Course, almost as if he was on a mission out to prove something.
Only Howell indeed was and is out to prove something this year. During last year’s final round of the Men’s City Championship at Jimmy Clay Golf Course, Howell held a two-shot lead over Jonathan Alden, who started the day in the lead by four, with just two holes to play.
But Howell let the city title slip right through his fingertips when he closed the last two holes with a bogey and a double bogey. Alden, who had nearly given away the tournament himself after a quadruple bogey at the par-5 16th, skated in with two pars. Just like that, Alden was the champion, and Howell left Jimmy Clay that day heartbroken.
“I wanted to win that last year, and I was very disappointed in myself to not come home with it,” Howell said. “It definitely fueled me because I think it’s a tournament I can win and I know I can win, so I just have to do it.”
Howell is out for redemption this year, and his first 36 holes of this championship suggest that he has the game to finally break through and win. But it only gets tougher from here. Plenty of proven players lurk behind on the leaderboard, and Saturday’s third round at Grey Rock Golf Club could very well be the toughest test of the four tracks played in this tournament.
“I love Grey Rock. I’ve been out there plenty of times,” Howell said. “I think it suits my game well. I’m just gonna keep the same game plan I’ve had all week and I’ll be fine.”
For the full leaderboard after round two of the 2018 Austin Men’s City Championship, click here: leaderboard.htm
For Saturday’s third round tee times at Grey Rock Golf Club, click here: pairings.htm