Howell edges towards full fitness

David Howell is hopeful of being fully fit again by the end of the week following treatment on his latest injury.

David Howell is hopeful of being fully fit again by the end of the week following treatment on his latest injury.

The European Tour number one struggled to a closing 82 in the US PGA championship on Sunday after suffering pains in his right shoulder warming up.

Howell is now in Ohio for the Bridgestone Invitational starting tomorrow and said before going out for his one practice round: “It’s getting better.

“I’ll probably be an injured golfer teeing off in the first round, but come Sunday (there is no halfway cut) hopefully I’ll be fine.

“It was a problem in my neck, which went into spasm and then affected a nerve. But the physio I’ve been getting has certainly eased it.”

The 31-year-old, eagerly looking forward to earning a second Ryder Cup cap in a month’s time, took things easy on Monday and Tuesday, pulling out of a planned company day and then hitting only a few balls on the range at Firestone Country Club.

At least this is not the recurrence of an old injury. When Howell took a month off after the Masters in April it was because of his back and when he missed two months last year it was because of a torn stomach muscle.

Earlier in his career he was put out of action after twisting an ankle playing tennis and then in 2002 he broke his arm when he took a fall while out jogging.

He is one of 19 Europeans in the 78-strong field at Akron, where Tiger Woods is going for his fifth victory in the event.

It is the penultimate counting event to decide places in Europe’s side for the K Club.

In position to qualify at the moment are Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Howell and Colin Montgomerie off the world ranking points list and Robert Karlsson, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal from their European Tour earnings.

Of those, Montgomerie is the only one missing this week – he has chosen to play in a celebrity pro-am in Wales instead – but the Scot, already sure of qualifying, will be back for next week’s BMW International in Munich and could influence things there.

The nearest challengers to Olazabal, who has decided he needs next week off, are Paul Broadhurst, Johan Edfors, John Bickerton, Kenneth Ferrie and Thomas Bjorn. But of those, Broadhurst and Ferrie are not part of this week’s 78-man field competing for almost £4million in prize money.

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