The Last Word

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

It wasn\'t much of a look really, just a dark, nearly grape coloured shirt, unobjectionable pants and sensible shoes. On the first day of the Canadian Open, Charles Howell III\'s most eyecatching weapon was his game.

Howell sits just a stroke off the lead after enduring racing winds to shoot a tidy 67 at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club yesterday.

This should not be a dramatic surprise.

You may not have heard of Charles Howell III but he sits 22nd on the PGA earnings list with $1.65 million US and that will buy some serious thread.

Still, more people recognize Thurston Howell III than Charles Howell III and in this, the official If It Isn\'t About Tiger, I Don\'t Want To Read About It Era, a fellow needs to do something other than play well to get noticed.

That something is fashion.

Charley Howell has one PGA victory in the bank but he still dresses like a bridesmaid.

Name a colour, or fabric, it has ridden on the back of Charles Howell III.

He wore white last year to the U.S. Open. All white. He looked like he missed the plane to Wimbledon. The people booed and we think it\'s time people were more liberal. Just because Charles Howell is married doesn\'t mean he shouldn\'t be able to wear white on his big day.

Howell was playfully apologetic about the low key little number he was wearing in Hamilton.

He was spending his day beside Jesper Parnevic, the high priest of golf fashion and by wearing something understated, he guaranteed the two wouldn\'t show up for work wearing the same outfit.

\"I can\'t keep up with Jesper. I think Jesper and Aaron Baddeley have taken over the tour in outrageous dressing,\'\' Howell said.

Hard to argue there.

Parnevik looked smashing in a pair of surgical green scrub-type pants, white shoes, a clingy lycra-based shirt and a belt so big, it was last seen on Cher in 1974. Parnevik also wore his trademark turned up hat which makes the once sweet-swinging Swede instantly recognizable as the only man on the course routinely mistaken for Goomer Pyle.

As for Baddeley, he was a vision in Seersucker Purple Pants and a grape patterned silk shirt.

The shoes were white, and he wore the same style belt as Parnevik, which might have been the most exciting element of the day.

Clearly, the men, playing two pairings apart, switched belts on nearly every shot. There is just no way God would permit two belts like that.

Anyway, Howell is just being modest. He is from Augusta, near Augusta National as a matter of fact, and for his first Masters last year, he wore tight, tuxedo-type pants with a green stripe down the side.

His mother called them his prison pants.

He has worn form-fitting shirts awash in royal blue, complimented by columns of aqua, white, navy and sky blue.

They say it\'s really quite breathtaking.

Howell got his dressing tips from his friend Parvenik, who steered him toward his personal clothes designer, Johan Lindeberg in what, in Sweden at least, would not be considered a capital crime.

Parvenik was long considered the goofiest dresser in the game but in this, the age of irony, there is something edgy about a golfer who wears loud colours. It\'s kind of retro.

It\'s also kind of smart.

Tiger Woods\' dominance of all things golf means everyone else must fight for the meagre attention the Great Man does not command.

Howell has scratched out a piece of the endorsement market. He flogs video games, trading cards and Rolex watches.

In the world of Tiger, you need to stand out.

\"I think it\'s important to look a little bit different,\'\' Howell said.

\"I can\'t quite go to the bright pink pants and purple and lime though.\'\'

Perhaps another day.


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