DAVID Howell will play a game of mind over matter on the shores of Loch Lomond this week in his search for an elusive sixth European Tour title, writes GARETH MOORHOUSE.

The Swindon ace, pictured above, swings into action at the Scottish Open early this afternoon looking to build on his impressive top 20 finish in Kent last week.

Howell's superb final round of 70 - which included a Tour record seven sand saves - was in stark contrast to many of his colleagues, who endured a torrid time in the wind and rain at London Golf Club.

After steering his employer to his best finish since the Portuguese Open in April, caddie Nick Mumford revealed Howell's performance owed as much to positive thinking than any great display of ball striking.

Mumford said: "We were stood on the tee and David told me he was now ranked number 250 in the world.

"I told him actually it's more like 270, but it didn't really surprise him.

"The world rankings are a fair indicator of how well you are playing and David has accepted that.

"That's the best thing about him. He doesn't get hung up on things like that, he just focuses on the golf.

"We both know, another few top 20 finishes and he will soon start to climb the rankings again.

"He will be in a good frame of mind after last week and that will really help going into the Scottish Open.

"It's his favourite event on the tour and it would be nice if he could put another run of four solid rounds together."

Howell's last visit to the winner's circle came at Wentworth in 2006, when he cruised to victory in the BMW Championship.

And though he has yet to taste success north of the border in his professional career to date, the Loch Lomond course has always been a personal favourite.

"I'm not really sure why I like it so much, probably because it suits my game," said Howell.

"I have had some decent finishes up there in the past so hopefully this weekend will bring another one.

"It's nice to be playing in Britain because it cuts down all the travelling and you can just focus solely on the golf."

Howell begins his challenge at 12.50pm alongside Daniel Chopra and Thomas Bjorn.

A world class field has assembled for the Barclays-sponsored event, with Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Adam Scott all looking to tame the 7149-yard par 71 course.

Frenchman Gregory Havret, winner in 2007, will attempt to become the first golfer to successfully defend the title in the tournament's 26-year history.