England’s David Howell will have two very different reasons for aiming for success when he lines up in the field for this week’s Czech Open at the Prosper Golf Resort in Čeladná.
Firstly, the 36 year old Englishman is keen to capitalise on his recent good form in an attempt to continue his climb up The Race to Dubai but secondly, on a more personal note, the four time European Tour champion wants to win the trophy to provide the perfect memorial to his mum Sally who lost her long-time battle against illness two weeks ago.
“It was, obviously, a very sad time for all the family and the last two weeks have been spent making sure everything was taken care of properly,” said Howell.
“However, one thing my mum was always delighted with was my success as a professional golfer. She was very proud of everything I achieved in the game and it would be the perfect tribute to her for me to go out and win this week in the Czech Republic.”
Certainly if Howell can reproduce some of the form he showed on his last outing on The European Tour – where he finished in a share of eighth place in the Irish Open presented by Discover Ireland – he might well find himself in the reckoning come Sunday night.
“Although it was a disappointing last day in Ireland, I took a lot of confidence from that week as a whole and especially on the Saturday when I played with Rory McIlroy in front of huge crowds and carded a 64. That showed me that the work I have been doing with my coach Jamie Gough recently has been paying off.”
Howell enjoyed a good start to the 2011 season before an ankle injury midway through the year saw him out of action for two months. His return came in the BMW PGA Championship in May and although he finished in the top 40 at Wentworth Club, it signalled the beginning of a topsy-turvy spell.
“I started listening to too many people when I came back and very quickly I found that my game was in a bit of pickle,” he said. “I then decided to go back to Jamie and try and work out a simple plan to move my game forward and, so far, it seems to be working.
“I was in a good position in terms of The Race to Dubai at the start of the year but I have now slipped back to 85th place. The goals I’ve set for the year are realistic but my top one is to get into the top 60 and qualify for the Dubai World Championship.
“Living in Dubai as I do during the winter it has been pretty awful to see that tournament taking place virtually on my doorstep over the past two years and not to be a part of it. Hopefully I can put that right this year.”
Howell is one of ten Ryder Cup players who will headline the field in the tournament’s third successive season on The European Tour, having returned in 2009 following a 12 year hiatus.
The others are Ignacio Garrido, Oliver Wilson, Søren Hansen, Phillip Price, Paul McGinley, Joakim Haeggman, Jarmo Sandelin, Paul Broadhurst and Miguel Angel Jiménez, who is also the course designer responsible for the layout of the Prosper Golf Resort.
Jiménez finished in a tie for seventh place 12 months ago, and the 47 year old – who completed all four rounds in last week’s US PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia – will be hoping a return to familiar territory will inspire him to his first victory of the season, having finished runner-up at both the Volvo Golf Champions and the Ballantine’s Championship.
Oskar Henningsson also returns to the course where he won his maiden European Tour title two years ago, the first part of a Swedish double in the Czech Open with compatriot Peter Hanson succeeding him as champion last year.