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Page last updated at 19:27 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 20:27 UK

Howell ready for Open challenge

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 is hoping to repeat his form of last year's Open at Turnberry

David Howell did not have too many happy memories of the Open Championship until Royal Birkdale in 2008.

But the final round 67 with which he climbed through the field to finish tied for seventh place a year ago has left him thinking he has more to give.

"I couldn't control the ball well enough in the early part of my career," Swindon's Howell told BBC Sport.

"Now I feel like I'm more capable of putting four rounds of golf together in an Open."

Howell added: "I hadn't played well at an Open until last year.

"I'd always done well at qualifying then not performed when it came to the real thing."

Five straight missed cuts, as well as a withdrawal from the 2005 Open at St Andrews with a stomach muscle injury, certainly did not match the promise of the two top 50 finishes he managed at Royal Birkdale and Carnoustie in two of his first three appearances.

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But the respective returns on the Open rota to Carnoustie and Birkdale proved a positive omen.

A tie for 53rd in 2007 was followed by last year's tie for seventh - this time just nine shots behind the eventual winner Padraig Harrington, as opposed to 17 strokes the year before.

And Howell recognises the upwardly mobile progression.

"Last year was the complete opposite," he admitted. "I didn't play well, but then had a wonderful last round to finish seventh.

"And now it's nice to know I can perform well in this. It's given me confidence."

Having progressed through the ranks to reach No 3 in Europe at the end of the 2006 season, having even vied for the No 1 spot along the way, Howell has since had his ups and downs, mostly of an injury-related nature.

But he finally "made an honest woman" of his long-time girlfriend earlier this year, showing his light-hearted side by inviting the guests to dine on fish and chips.

And, even on his own blog, which he started a year or so ago, he sometimes admits to finding it hard to remain uplifting.

"I just tell it how it is," he said. "It's not easy writing about missed cuts and playing poorly every week."

But he showed, in a marvellously, bitingly funny speech he gave at the annual Association of Golf Writers dinner on Tuesday, that he has not lost his sense of humour - nor his sense of humility just by simply being there two nights before his biggest golfing date of the year.

And he appears in the right sort of spirits to tackle Turnberry.

"I've been on a bit of a golfing slump," said Howell, who has not made even a top 50 finish since Andalucia in March and is now ranked No 204 in Europe.

"But this is just what I needed. It's a brute of a course, but it's very fair out there.

It's nice to know I can perform well in this. It's given me confidence

David Howell

"The fairways are not overly wide yet, equally, it's not single file either.

"If the weather stays nice, if it gets any firmer, that would make it more difficult to hold the ball. And a little bit of give in the greens would help.

"But the Open has a completely different feel from normal events and it helps make you think that what's gone before is irrelevant."



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see also
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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