David Howell has certainly had a year of two halves in 2006. The English star started the season in tremendous fashion with a high profile victory over Tiger Woods in Shanghai and success in the BMW Championship at Wentworth in May, and for most of the year he looked set to lift the Order of Merit title as Europe’s number one player.
However, from the summer onwards, the current world number 14 has been struck down by numerous injuries ? all of which disrupted his form and rhythm. The most troublesome was his recurring back problem, an injury that at one stage threatened his participation in the Open, the USPGA Championship, and Europe’s successful Ryder Cup defence at the K Club in September. Howell concluded a very busy year at the Target World Challenge last weekend, the 30th event of his marathon season.
He has now admitted that he is going to have to start obeying his body and cut down on the number of tournaments he enters. Unfortunately for European fans, he has confirmed that most of the events he skips next year will be on the European Tour, due to the minimum commitment level required to retain a USPGA Tour card. It now looks certain that he will miss the Middle Eastern section of the European Tour in January and February, instead making his 2007 debut in the USA in the run-up to the WGC Match Play and the US Masters.
“I need to cut my schedule down, and Europe is going to have to take the hit,” said the 31-year-old from Swindon.
“I’ll have to cut out four or five events, and I can’t do that in America as I already play my minimum there to retain my card. I haven’t got much choice as my body is breaking down. It’s hard to watch guys playing in the sunshine when you’re sitting in the cold and rain. But this year proved that I have to slow down. My body let me down in the second half of the year and I have to do the best thing by it.”