DAVID Howell was hoping to end his torrid 2017 European Tour season on a high as the Andalucia Valderrama Masters got underway today.

The 42-year-old admits that even a victory at the Real Club Valderrama was unlikely to see him gatecrash the end-of-season party, with the run-in to the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in the middle of next month poised to begin for the top-ranked players after this weekend.

However, with his back troubles at the moment under control, Howell believes he is heading into this event in a much better place than where he was at the Italian Open last week – despite making his first cut since the Scottish Open in mid-July.

“I started the week (in Italy) with a good score, but my form was poor – I had no idea what I was doing,” Howell said.

“I ended the week slightly more in control of the ball, more in control of my own feelings with what I’m trying to do with my swing, that is the most important thing – you need to feel in control.

“At the start of the week I felt out of control but as the week progressed by the end of the week so that was pleasing.

“Then without the pressure of a scorecard in my hand on Monday (here in Spain) I hit the ball really nicely, that was good.”

Howell says that making the cut in Italy last week was a timely reminder that he still belongs on the top table of European golf.

“Last week was a big tournament with lots of points and money on offer,” the two-time Ryder Cup winner said.

“It was nice to make the cut bearing in mind that I felt in poor form. It was a big reminder in my ability to score and get around a golf course remains intact.

“I feel like things are trending in the right direction for me as I go into what is likely to be my last tournament of the season, barring an absolutely miracle like a victory and even then that might not be enough to get me into the last three events.

“This is the last one of this season so it will be nice to end up with a nice confidence boost, a body that feels healthy and game that is in control so I can look forward to next season with anticipation rather than trepidation.”

Having missed so much of the 2017 campaign through injury, Howell says that he is likely to go straight into the 2018 season when it gets underway at the end of November with the Hong Kong Open.

“If I’m feeling healthy I will play two or three of the ones in November-December like Hong Kong and Australia,” the Broome Manor pro said.

“It is getting more competitive out here so you want to get off to a good start and have a few points on the board going into January and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“I haven’t played much golf this year, I have been home a lot so I can spare the energy to get on my travels for when next year gets underway.”