DAVID Howell has played down the notion that he enjoys an advantage over his peers at the Dubai Desert Classic, despite living a stone’s throw from the tournament venue.

Swindon’s Howell is based next to the Emirates Golf Club but has not played the course since finishing tied 37th there in February last year.

The maiden success of the 37-year-old on the European Tour came at the Classic in 1999, when he stormed to the title at Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club.

However, the former world number nine has quashed the idea that home advantage at the Emirates will aid him in his attempts to replicate the triumph of 14 years ago.

“Strangely I haven’t played the course since last year,” said Howell, who was due to tee off at 4.35am GMT this morning.

“When I’m at home I go to Jumeirah Golf Estates where they hold the World Tour Championship at the end of the year, so I haven’t got any advantage over anyone else.

“But it’s my ‘other’ home tournament and I’m desperately looking forward to playing.

“The Classic is by far the best atmosphere of the Middle East tournaments. It is really well-attended and Qatar and Abu Dhabi just don’t have the same amount of people around the course.”

Howell returned to the world’s top 200 this week off the back of his 10th successive cut and a third finish in a row inside the top 25 at the Qatar Masters on Saturday.

The Broome Manor pro’s career has been on a general upward curve since June, with the two-time Ryder Cup winner having only missed the cut once since then.

And Howell has revealed the relaxed mentality he began to adopt last year has been the biggest contributing factor to that success, rather than any technical tweaks.

“I’ve been through periods of change where I’ve tried to change my swing, but you get to a point where you accept what you’ve got,” he said. “The weeks go by and I don’t work on anything different, but I become more and more comfortable playing the game and making the best of what I’ve got.

“It’s definitely a different phase in my career. I’m not getting in my own way mentally, I’m a lot better on the course and that’s a big part of it. My belief is getting better week by week and I’m starting off each week plotting how to go about winning a tournament.”