DAVID Howell has been left “incredibly frustrated” after injury forced him to postpone the start of his 2019 European Tour season.

Swindon golfer Howell was due to open up his 24th campaign on the continent’s top tier at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, which gets under way today.

The 43-year-old has been hampered by a succession of injury issues in recent years, but was hoping for a fresh start in 2019 having sat out tournament action since the Andalucia Valderrama Masters in late October.

However, Howell has yet to reach a fitness level he deems acceptable, so will skip this week’s event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the hope of returning for next week’s Dubai Desert Classic.

“It is really frustrating not to be out there, but I am just not where I need to be physically,” said Howell.

“Having had the last month off, this was the last thing I expected.

“I have been trying to rehab from all the issues that brought last season to a close in a bad state, but I just haven’t quite got to the point where I am able to swing freely and free of pain.

“It is what it is and I am hoping to be OK for next week in Dubai. If it pans out that I am healthy for the rest of the year, it won’t be so bad, but right now it is incredibly frustrating.”

As well as his body, Howell admits the psychological torment that is brought about by injury is increasing the toll on the Broome Manor man.

In an effort to remain upbeat, the two-time Ryder Cup winner has looked at the astonishing comeback mounted by former world number one Tiger Woods last year as hope he too gain get close to his best form again once his injury issues relent.

“It is really hard from a mental point-of-view too,” said Howell.

“I had a lot of empathy with Andy Murray and his breakdown in that press conference the other day.

“It is incredibly stressful on the mind when you are injured as a sportsman. The run I have had with them certainly has got to me at times.

“To not have the ability to go out and hit some balls and play golf is very frustrating – I have done that my entire life.

“At the end of the day, injuries are part of sport and all you can do is be patient, continue to try to do the right things, make the right decisions and look positively at those who have come back.

“Look at Tiger – he went through hell for four years and came back last year feeling better and able to win.

“There are success stories out there, so it’s my job to make sure I am hopefully another one.”