Dubai resident David Howell will finally make his debut in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai after securing his place in the elite field with his play-off victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Howell’s victory at St Andrews lifted him to the top of the European Ryder Cup Points List and to 12th on the Race to Dubai, guaranteeing qualification for the season finale on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates from 14-17 November.
Runner-up Peter Uihlein is also sure of a berth in the DP World Tour Championship after his second place cheque lifted him into the top ten of the Race to Dubai. The top 60 at the conclusion of the Turkish Airlines Open will tee it up at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
“Finally!” smiled Howell, after his first win in seven years. “I’ve been gutted to have missed it every year since the tournament began there so I am delighted to have guaranteed my place in the DP World Tour Championship.
“Jumeirah Golf Estates is my home course so it will be very nice to be able to play in the tournament. Neil Graham is the General Manager, Club Operations and one of my best mates so it will be pretty cool to be able to play his course and try and keep this form going.”
For the past four years, Howell has been forced to watch the season finale from the comfort of his sofa in Dubai – he has been a UAE resident since the tournament began – or from the confines of the TV commentary box. But that has all changed thanks to the winner’s cheque of €589,561 from the fifth European Tour victory of an up-and-down career with Howell now secure of his place in top 60 players on The European Tour.
Howell’s win also comes at a crucial point in the season with big money tournaments set to play a key role in who qualifies for the European Team for the 2014 Ryder Cup. “It's impossible to get in The Ryder Cup without playing the biggest events and that's what makes a victory like this so important,” said the two-time Ryder Cup player.
“I wasn't sure whether I was going to play in the Perth International or not, would I get into the BMW Masters in Asia, would I make The Race to Dubai. Without getting in those three or four events, you're near on impossible to make it, so it's another big step on the road.
“When you're not playing well, The Ryder Cup is a pretty nerve wracking event and you can only really cope with it if you're playing extremely good golf. You wouldn't want to have been in The Ryder Cup playing as poorly as I have in the last four or five years, but sure enough, with a big victory, it's going to be on the mind much, much more.”
With the first ever Final Series and its combined prize-money of US$30.5 million on the horizon, the coming weeks will play a key role for those looking to make their mark in the race for European Ryder Cup places. For Howell, a former World Number Nine, it’s also a chance to experience the warmth of home galleries at the DP World Tour Championship.
“I obviously love Dubai and have a lot of friends over there now, which brings its own little pressures but it definitely adds to a tournament when you feel at home and have lots of support from the galleries.”
Tickets for the four-day DP World Tour Championship are free of charge and can be obtained by registering online at the event website www.DPWTC.com.