Howell Comes of Age after Reaching Ryder Cup Plateau
David Howell has become one of the best in the business since his debut at Oakland Hills, and is walking proof of what The Ryder Cup can do for a player's self belief
Michael Gibbons, Press Officer
21 September 2006
David Howell has come a long way since his Ryder Cup debut two years ago in America. Before Oakland Hills, 2004, the 31 year old had gained a reputation for being The European Tour’s ‘nearly man’. Yes, he had won the 1999 Dubai Desert Classic, but few, including the man himself, would deny that he should have won many more events before he qualified for Bernhard Langer’s record breaking Ryder Cup Team.
Between that maiden Tour win in 1999 and making The 2004 Ryder Cup squad, Howell finished second at least once a season from 2000-2003. He has always been marvellously consistent, hence the reason he qualified automatically for the 2004 Team, but it was not until he elevated himself to the exclusive plateau of The Ryder Cup that he began to truly believe he was among the best in the business.
Since Oakland Hills, where he won a crucial point alongside Paul Casey in the Friday afternoon foursomes, Howell’s confidence and self belief have developed in perfect harmony with his game.
That process, which began with a third place finish in the 2004 WGC – American Express Championship, two weeks after The Ryder Cup, shows no sign of abating.
In 2005 Howell produced his best ever season on The European Tour, taking seventh place on The Order of Merit, and ending a six year wait for his second victory when he won the BMW International Open.
The ‘nearly man’ tag had been ripped off, and he has just kept on improving. This season he has stepped it up another gear, overcoming the considerable presence of Tiger Woods in the final round of the HSBC Champions tournament to take the title ahead of the World Number One, before winning The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW Championship at Wentworth Club.
“Just being involved with the Ryder Cup helped my self belief to improve,” confirmed Howell. “I finished third in one of the World Championship events a few weeks later and I've gone onto win three tournaments in that two year period.
“I certainly always used to look at the members of the Ryder Cup team in a slightly different way on The European Tour, and obviously becoming one of those, I guess I did feel slightly different. And it certainly stood me in good stead.”
As a result of his elevation through the golfing ranks, Howell will almost certainly play a bigger role in the 2006 edition of The Ryder Cup. He played in just two matches as a Rookie in Oakland Hills, but two years on, will be one of Ian Woosnam’s key men.
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- 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.