DAVID Howell is eyeing his best finish of the calendar year at the Alfred Dunhill Championship this week as he aims to get his 2020 European Tour season off to a positive start straight away.

Following a four-week break in which the Swindon golfer changed his coach and putting grip, Howell says he is feeling refreshed and ready to see off the end of a ‘shocking’ year of golf by building some early-season momentum.

The former Broome Manor pro begins his round at Leopard Creek Golf Club this morning hunting some redemption for what has been the least successful season of his 26-year career.

Howell said: “I’m playing three times before Christmas, so it would certainly be nice to go into that two-week break with some nice finishes under my belt.

“My 2019 has been an absolute shocker, but I’ve got three tournaments left in this calendar year, so you never know.

“A couple of nice weeks would be a great boost and get me off to a positive start in the new season.

“Even if my best result of the calendar year came in these next three weeks, that would be something.

“It feels quite important to get something going straightaway.”

If Howell could choose a course to rediscover his form on, Leopard Creek might be quite high on the list.

In the 44-year-old’s last appearance at the same tournament in 2010, Howell ended in a tie for 13th – therefore the two-time Ryder Cup winner has his eyes firmly fixed on a similar result in 2019.

He said: “I haven’t played this course much – two or three times maybe – but I seem to remember having a good finish last time I was here about eight or nine years ago to end up inside the top 20.

“I always enjoy playing in South Africa and having had a look at the course in my practice round, I don’t think it really favours any type of player.

“Good all-around golf will be rewarded and there’s no reason from that perspective why I can’t do well again.

“I’ve joined up with an old coach, Hugh Marr, and I’ve changed my putting grip which feels better initially.

“I putted well in practice, so hopefully I can take that into this week, and we’ll start seeing putts go in the hole with a bit more regularity.”