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Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 16:47 UK

Howell happy with his golf again

The 138th Open, Turnberry
Date: 16-19 July
Coverage: Live TV coverage on BBC Two, Online and the Red Button, live on Radio 5 Live and text commentary online on all four days

By Ged Scott
BBC Sport at Turnberry

David Howell
Howell played with his former Ryder Cup opponent Stewart Cink

Swindon's David Howell has had his struggles over the past three years - but he picked just the right place to hit top form in the Open Championship.

A two-under 68, which could have been even better after reaching the turn in 31, leaves the injury-plagued Howell challenging nicely at Turnberry.

"I haven't played a decent round of golf all year," Howell told BBC Sport. "I've only made a couple of cuts.

"But today was by far the best round of the year I've played."

Howell, 34, once Europe's number three, has now plummeted to outside the Tour's Top 200 but playing alongside American Stewart Cink helped bring the best out of him again.

And, although Cink's four-under 66 was more like the score Howell could and should have had, if he had not made a mess of it late on with a double bogey at the short 15th and another dropped shot at the long 17th, the man from Wiltshire was still pleased.

"I made a mental decision after hooking my tee-shot on the second only to play with a fade all day and it worked for me," he said.

There was a period in my life when I was missing the cut, going home to nothing and dreading it but it has made me feel differently about things

David Howell on marriage

"It's something my coach and my caddie encourage me to do and I don't want to be one-dimensional but a fade suits the bouncy conditions and helps the ball stop a bit softer.

Howell, who is due out again on Friday at 1442 BST, can be optimistic if he can find more of the form that brought four birdies in six holes on the front nine, at the 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th, as he went to the turn in four-under 31.

Then he missed the green left with his tee-shot at the 15th and "made a hash" of his recovery from a "really good lie".

"My master plan on 17th was to hit the left rough with my second shot to give me the line in but I got the worst lie you've ever seen and could only move it 10 yards," he said.

Howell did at least make up for that dropped shot by responding with a birdie at the 18th. And his calm, humorous demeanour afterwards, were in contrast with his injury struggles at the French Open a fortnight ago when he could not even practice.

"I made a potential career move into the removals industry by helping a mate of mine carry a washing machine down to the garage from my first-floor flat," revealed a rueful Howell.

Stewart Cink and David Howell
Howell was full of smiles alongside Cink at Turnberry

"It turned out to be a crazy decision, which has wrecked the first half of the season for me, left me with a badly strained side and lower half of my back which I've been struggling with for the last four months.

"But my physio Dale Richardson has done a great job, at least enabling me to practice."

There is also the improved mental aspect to his game that comes from domestic contentment that is clearly being enjoyed by the newly-wed Howell.

"I feel a lot more settled," he said. "There was a period in my life when I was missing the cut, going home to nothing and dreading it but it has made me feel differently about things.

"Over the last three years, since the start of my demise, there have been a lot of off-course troubles and there have been times when I was not a happy camper.

"And it all took me on a journey to find out what was going to make me happy."

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see also
The Open - day one as it happened
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Legend Watson shines at Turnberry
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
The Open in photos
16 Jul 09 |  Golf
Woods targeting 15th major title
15 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Open round four tee-off times
18 Jul 09 |  Golf
Daly tips could work for Wardrop
15 Jul 09 |  Golf
Turnberry gallery
14 Jul 09 |  Golf
Memories of Turnberry
13 Jul 09 |  Golf
Behind the scenes at the Open
14 Jul 09 |  Golf

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