Howell aims to keep building

From beating Tiger Woods to watching his comeback in an Arizona television studio less than 3 1/2 years later is not quite what David Howell had planned for his career.

But when you fall from ninth in the world to outside the top 200 that is what can happen.

At the Portuguese Open starting today, however, Howell hopes to feed off some happy memories and point himself towards a brighter future.

Twice a Ryder Cup winner, the 33-year-old from Swindon failed to register a single top 20 finish during an injury-hit 2007, but at Oitavos Dunes last April shot a closing 64 and was in a play-off for the title with France’s Gregory Bourdy and Scot Alastair Forsyth.

It was his lowest round for over two years and although Bourdy won in sudden death – Howell has lost all four he has been involved in – it did not put all his troubles behind him.

“A bit like a new manager coming into a Premier League side and winning his first match,” he said. “You hope it’s going to kick start things, but it doesn’t always work out like that.”

Finishing seventh in The Open and third at the Johnnie Walker Championship helped him improve from 142nd to 45th on the Order of Merit, but in seven starts so far this year he has yet to finish in the top 30 and is down at 147th in the Race To Dubai.

And that is why he was able to say ’Yes’ when Sky Sports asked him if he wanted to join their commentary team at the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson five weeks ago.

“It was strange being around a tournament and not playing in it – I didn’t enjoy that side of it – and there were a couple of American players who hadn’t really taken note of the fact I wasn’t in the field.

“It gave me a bit of a kick up the arse and I want it to be a long time before I even start thinking about doing that full-time.”

This time last year he had just started working on his game with Jamie Gough, brother of former Scotland soccer star Richard.

At Christmas Howell went back to former coach Clive Tucker, but now he and Gough are linking up again.

“You’ve just got to keep searching,” he added. “Things I was working on were not taking shape, but I’ve enjoyed my golf more lately and I’m looking forward to the Portuguese.”

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