SWINDON star David Howell says he is going through his ‘toughest period as a professional’ after pulling out of the BMW International Open with a hip injury on his 42nd birthday.

The European Tour tournament in Munich was Howell's first in two weeks after he was also forced to withdraw prematurely from the Nordea Masters in Sweden with a back injury.

Howell, who was three over par after Thursday’s first round, completed nine holes at Golfclub München Eichenried this morning but was five over par for his second round when he called a halt.

This latest setback comes after a lack of form at the start of the year, where he went a career-long of seven tournaments without making the cut.

Despite this, there had been recent signs of encouragement for Howell, as he recorded his best finish of the year when he claimed 48th at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

However, as he faces another potential lay-off from action, the two-time Ryder Cup winner admits his career has hit a significant low point.

“There isn’t much more I can say really, it is a shocking state of affairs,” Howell told the Swindon Advertiser following his withdrawal.

“I’m going to rest and see a doctor to see if another injection is possible, I’m going to try and fit that in before next week if they think it is a good idea.

“Finding form was slight progress, I felt like I was moving quite well for a few weeks and maybe the injection had helped.

“Over time it might have worn off, I am definitely not moving as well this week, it is really frustrating and the toughest period I’ve ever had as a professional golfer.”

While he aims to be fit for next week’s HNA Open de France, the Broome Manor member will have to come a long way to be in contention.

“My right hip has been terrible and I couldn’t move at all today which has restricted my movement,” he added.

“I was about as un-athletic as you could possibly be. I just couldn’t play at all. I’m very disappointed and on my way home.

“I had an injection there two months ago, so I know I have a problem there and it is always a best guess as to what is happening.

“For whatever reason I wasn’t able to move very well. It’s not like it is complete agony but the body works in strange ways. “We will just have to have fingers crossed and hope for the best.”