Charles Howell III continues to piece game back together

Golf is a fickle game. One day you're on top of the world, and the next you find yourself mired in a mini-slump, where you're suddenly trying everything you can to get your swing and your mindset back where it needs to be.

Charles Howell should know. After winning the 2007 Nissan Open, his second tour victory, it seemed like the up-and-coming star was coming into his own on the PGA Tour. But four years after that win, Howell seemed to disappear, plummeting to 149th in the World Golf Rankings. He's spent the last couple of years trying to get his game back.

If he needed some positive vibes from a round to get things going in the right directon, he got them on Friday with a 7-under 65 to get within three of Martin Laird going into the weekend at Bay Hill.

"It's a funny game. All of a sudden I make a putt or two from 20, 25 feet and all is right in the world again," Howell said after his second round. "Score gets a little lower. Players are so good, that it's just a shot or two here or there to get it rolling."

Living only a stone's throw away from Bay Hill, this week's event is a home game for Howell, who seems to be getting closer after posting four top 15 finishes this season. If winning close to home home isn't incentive enough, a win for Howell would get the Augusta, Ga., native into the Masters, a tournament he would love to play this year.

If he keeps swinging like he did Friday, there's no question he'll be driving down Magnolia Lane in a couple weeks.

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