Howell then parred the third playoff hole – making a 3-foot putt after Mickelson missed from 10 feet – to give him just his second PGA Tour victory on Sunday. Howell, 27, shot a final-round 6-under 65 on his second-favorite golf course and won $936,000. Mickelson shot a 3-under 68. “To finally win here, I’m speechless,” Howell said. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world right now.” Howell seemed like the unluckiest guy on the tour for a while. He had nine second-place finishes since his last – and only – PGA victory in 2002. He finished second to Woods in the Buick Invitational last month and in a tie for second at the Sony Open to start the season. When Howell’s putt fell on the final playoff hole, the par-3 14th, he didn’t jump on a car or pump his fists. He simply looked up and closed his eyes. Phil Mickelson had the Nissan Open under control but stumbled down the stretch and bogeyed the 18th hole while Howell, who started the day three shots back, snuck his way up the leaderboard. Howell trailed Mickelson by four shots after 12 holes, but his steady putter, coupled with Mickelson’s uncharacteristically shaky short game, forced a playoff. • Photo Gallery: Nissan Open PACIFIC PALISADES – Charles Howell III now has something his good friend Tiger Woods doesn’t even have: a win at Riviera Country Club. The look had relief written all over it. “I said a prayer before I hit the putt,” Howell said. “I said, `It’s time, let’s go in.’ ” Howell has been on a tear all season. In five events, Howell’s already won $2 million. This victory probably propels him into the Masters at Augusta, his hometown. He said that was his main priority this season. The win was a bonus. Howell made seven birdies and one bogey Sunday. He made his big move on the back nine as he birdied the 14th, 16th and 17th holes, two of which are par-3s. He birdied the 14th by making a 17-foot putt and the 16th with a 33-footer. He was on the green in two on No. 17 and two-putted from 49 feet for birdie. He wasn’t spectacular on the playoff holes, but neither was Mickelson. They both parred the 18th, which was the first playoff hole. They continued to the 10th hole, where Howell lost a playoff to Mike Weir at the Nissan in 2003 by missing a 6-foot putt. Howell said he thought about that debacle just before the playoff started. He hit his tee shot left and onto a cart path behind trees. He opted to hit instead of taking a drop and his ball clipped the tree branches and carried just 16 yards. He chipped to within two feet and made the putt. Asked about the hole, Howell said: “We have a love-hate relationship.” Then on to the 14th, where Mickelson and Howell both came up short of the green on the par-3. Mickelson, who was 52 feet short, used his putter on the fringe and it hopped up on the edge and was 10 feet short. He missed the putt. Howell chipped to within three feet and made the putt. [email protected] (818) 713-3615 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!