x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

‘Home’ advantage counts for little for Howell on Earth Course

Dubai resident shoots 66 at DP World Tour Championship but admits he is a 'novice' on this course.

David Howell. Mike Young / The National
David Howell. Mike Young / The National

John McAuley

DUBAI // As a quasi-local, David Howell’s red-hot second round at the DP World Tour Championship perhaps should not have come as much of a surprise.

The Dubai resident relocated to the UAE five years back, at exactly the same time the European Tour finale shifted to the Emirates, too. He has made a second home at Jumeirah Golf Estates, honing a game that in September yielded a first victory in seven seasons.

So, despite making his tournament debut here this week, surely his seven-birdie 66 can be attributed to a little local knowledge, right?

“As it happens, none at all,” said Howell, currently 20th in the Race to Dubai. “I wouldn’t have played this as much as the guys have in the past four years in a row, at five times a week. No way 20 times.

“So I’m still a bit of a novice when it comes to the Earth Course in tournament conditions.”

The Englishman usually whiles away the hours on Fire, the sister track at Jumeirah Golf Estates. He has found practice difficult since that victory at the Alfred Dunhill five weeks ago, however, having damaged his left shoulder doing some fitness work in the gym.

It has been reflected in his performances since - last week’s tied-44 in Turkey the highlight - but he is determined to “finish his season with a bang” here.

A “dreadful” round on Thursday, which he labelled his worst in a year, was swiftly forgotten by the time he had concluded Friday’s play, spurred on by a few friends and his children’s nanny.

They would not be reminiscing about the round back at chez Howell, though.

“I’m not even staying at home,” said Howell, who is spending this week, like most of his peers, at Atlantis, The Palm. “So I can’t say there’s really any home advantage.

“Plus, I’ve been given some chores by the missus to sort out for when we arrive after Christmas. I’ve been running around buying cars and all sorts.”


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