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Howell aiming to protect top-60 spot
SWINDON'S David Howell admits he is slightly disappointed not to be higher in the Race to Dubai rankings given his strong form in 2013, but concedes that it was never going to be any different given his extensive summer break.
The former world number nine has not played a single tournament since he finished tied-42nd at the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart nearly six weeks ago, but returns to action today in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the venue for next year's Ryder Cup.
Having missed the Russian Open out of choice, Howell was not part of the field at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and did not qualify for the USPGA Championship, leaving him plenty of time to focus on rest and relaxation.
The Broome Manor pro has already picked up €382,047 in prizemoney so far this season, meaning he is well on the way to surpassing the €426,781 he totalled last term.
However, at 55th in the Race to Dubai rankings, Howell is in danger of slipping out of the top 60 and therefore like last year failing to qualify for the World Tour Championship in November, held at Howell's other 'home' course, Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“I have missed two or three events and people have slipped by but that was always going to happen, not just for me but for others as well,” said Howell.
“I'm going to play just about every event in the run-up to Dubai and it's all to play for and there's no reason why I can't make strides forward.
“It was disappointing to miss out last year and it feels a little bit disappointing to be as low as I am at the moment having played so steadily all year.
“But I'm not going to take 55th in the order of merit for granted as there's a lot of people who would love to be in there.”
The 38-year-old admits that his lengthy period away from the game means that this week's tournament at Gleneagles feels like a new season.
“I didn't really play any golf during my time off and only got back into it last week,” said Howell.
“It's a bit of a strange feeling as it's like the start of the season again - it's been a longer break than the one I had during the winter.
“It's always a bit of a gamble to have had as much down time as I have, but you have to take breaks when they come along.
“I can still remember how to play and most of my game seems to be pretty much in order, but until the card is in your hand you just don't know.”
Howell tees off at 1.35pm in a head-turning threeball that includes two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and 2005 US Open winner Michael Campbell.
“I've had some reasonable results at Gleneagles and some rubbish ones as well, so it's a mixed bag in terms of my history,” continued Howell.
“I've finished in the top three a couple of times and missed a few cuts as well, so it's not a favourite but it's also not one I don't like.”
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