Howell wins first title in six years at BMW
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2005 BMW International Open | Wrap | 29 Aug 2005
It has been a long time between drinks for 30-year-old Englishman David Howell but today’s win at the BMW International in Munich puts the icing on what has been a stellar 2005, despite not being able to claim that elusive title until now.
Howell first joined the European Tour in 1996 at the age of 21 and has retained his card comfortably each and every year. His first big breakthrough came in 1999 when he won the Dubai Classic by four shots from Lee Westwood although he had won the MasterCard Australian PGA Championship at a very windswept NSW Golf Club a few months earlier. Howell was a brilliant junior having won the English Boys Championship in 1993, three years before turning professional and was a member of the successful 1995 Walker Cup team against a US team which included Tiger Woods.
Howell’s brilliant run in the middle of his round today established the winning break at a time when so many were in with the chance to take this significant event. In fact as Howell walked to the 11th tee he shared the lead at 19 under par with five other players. Howell though, was in the middle of a run that would see him birdie eight out of ten holes from the fifth and one that would sweep him to the lead. An early bogey in his final round saw him slip back to 15 under and at that stage trailing the third round leader Luke Donald by three, but by the time he had reached the turn he was one of the many in with a chance.
Donald had started his round with a birdie at the 5th but a double bogey at the 6th set him on the back foot and although there were more birdies, there would also be more bogeys and his challenge would end as those around him took advantage of the good scoring conditions. In the end Donald fell back to finish in a share of 11th.
While Donald’s demise was being played out, there were many others who were putting their hand up for the title. John Daly’s affinity with Germany, and more particularly this event, continued. An eagle at the 9th had him out in 31 and at 19 under he was amongst that group sharing the lead at that point. He bogeyed the 10th but would pick up four more birdies before a miss from 6 feet at the last for yet another would eventually cost him a chance at a playoff.
Brett Rumford’s was almost a carbon copy of Daly’s round, with the exception perhaps of 30 odd yards on his tee shots, but he too, after a bogey at the 10th, ran off four more birdies to finish and his runner up placing stopped the rot of recent months where has missed ten of twelve cuts. He earns €173,000 and is back on track after a woeful run of outs. He will be delighted at the manner in which he contended for so long in this event having come off such a wretched run.
Back to Howell and for him the win it comes off the back of a frustrating yet impressive season if the two can be placed in the same sentence. Prior to pulling a side oblique muscle around the time of the US Open, Howell was already having a great 2005. There had been six top tens in nine starts up to that point with consecutive runner up placings at the British Masters and the Nissan Irish Open. He was however, forced to withdraw from the US Open and did not play until the USPGA when he missed the cut by a big margin.
He was back and fit at the NEC Invitational last week in Ohio and his 6th place there suggested he was ready to return to where he left off two months earlier.
Over the closing holes today the birdie train slowed a little for Howell but he had done enough earlier in his round to establish a good cushion. Daly’s missed opportunity at the 18th saw Howell take the €333,000 first prize and move to 6th on the 2005 European Tour money list.
Back in 4th place were Niclas Fasth who added this good finish to his two wins earlier this season in New Zealand and Germany and Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen. Paul McGinley was 6th, with his caddie, Eddie Jordan of Formula One fame, enjoying his debut on the bag.
The next best of the Australians in 16th place was Peter Fowler who seems to have turned the corner of a very ordinary mid-season in recent weeks. Peter O’Malley, also on the improve after a run of outs, was 19th although he will rue dropping three shots late in his round. Wade Ormsby was 64th.
The European Tour now heads to Crans Sur Sierre in Switzerland for the European Masters.
Photo – Anthony Powter