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February 24, 2006

David Howell


SCOTT CROCKETT: David, many thanks for coming in. Many, many congratulations. What a wonderful day's golf and a fine victory. Just give us your thoughts.

DAVID HOWELL: Yeah, delighted, obviously. It was going to be a big challenge, in his hometown. But I've been playing nicely. And if you put the scores on the board, then whoever it is has got to beat that score. I felt good coming in, and sure enough, I played pretty darn well. I played 7 and 8 poorly. Other than that I think I played really pretty well.

SCOTT CROCKETT: You said yesterday you were just looking to play your own game. It seems to have worked.

DAVID HOWELL: Yeah, well, I mean you get asked this question all the time, whoever it is, match play, stroke play, it's a game of numbers at the end of the day. And we're all capable of shooting 7 under par, and 2 over on a bad day. It's just a case of going out there and playing. The strategy is different, obviously, if your opponent is in trouble or in good position, but other than that you've just got to play your game.

Q. David, I caught the end of the little interview on TV and you talked about playing with Tiger in China. You said, "It was a big day for me beating Tiger." If you face up to Tiger and beat him knowing and I missed the end of it nobody else is that big of a challenge or you can handle anybody?

DAVID HOWELL: The intimidation factor, if you stand up to Tiger you're not going to be it would be strange to be intimidated by anybody else. So it was a big day for me back in November. I'm sure part of that has rubbed off on me and I've brought that experience with me today.

Q. Did you feel a lot less nervous than you admitted you were that day?

DAVID HOWELL: Yeah, I wasn't nervous today, strangely. I was comfortable last night, playing nicely. Yeah, I guess it's a measure of where I stand in the world order nowadays. I'm a lot more comfortable in this situation. Phil is a legend for many years and I'm still trying to chase these guys. But I'm fairly comfortable in their company.

Q. Do you feel that Shanghai was a turning point as such and now having added Mickelson to your cap, you can take on anybody; you're in the same company now?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, beating Phil today, it's just one round of golf. It's a bit of a lottery out there; you have to bring your A game. That doesn't mean much in itself, other than I'm able to cope with the situation. But I've been coping with situations like this fairly well for a number of years now and I'm getting better at it all the time.

Shanghai was a big victory for me, as we've touched on already. It's all experience, isn't it, good, bad experience is invaluable. Phil has been out there 15 years, pretty well the top five players, just about all those years. But that doesn't mean you're going to play well every day. On any given day you can beat anybody, and that's a fact.

Q. You put yourself in that bracket now?

DAVID HOWELL: No, not particularly. I'm 15th in the world and I deserve to be there. Phil is 3rd or 4th and he deserves to be there. If in ten years' time I've been no better than 15th, then I'll put myself in the same bracket as Phil Mickelson, but not today.

Q. You set goals for yourself this year?

DAVID HOWELL: A load of them. To be honest with you, just a lot of general stuff. Ryder Cup is taken care of; I've qualified for that now. Order of Merit is one of them. It's a great head start and pressing on again this week. If I can play well the rest of the year, I'll have an awful lot of Order of Merit points. Obviously that's the challenge to continue to play with. But, yeah, I don't mind saying that winning the Order of Merit is one of them.

Q. Can you talk about the atmosphere? You're playing one of the most popular Americans, you're playing in his hometown. It's probably like playing a Ryder Cup over here. What was it like having Phil has the fans behind him?

DAVID HOWELL: There wasn't an awful lot of people out there, to be honest, and they were fairly quiet most of the time. It may have been that I was managing to just stay in front. Certainly the atmosphere is certainly nothing like a Ryder Cup. There might have been 300 or 400 people following us

Q. But I meant the fact they were rooting for the other guy.

DAVID HOWELL: Yeah, there were a few shouts out there for me; there were a couple of Brits out there making themselves heard. The fans, the American gallery were gracious with their support, should I say. It certainly wasn't a difficult atmosphere to play in.

Q. 14 months ago, David, you were talking about the top 25 as if that was going to be a really hard goal to crack. Are you pleasantly surprised by your own progress?

DAVID HOWELL: Yeah, I really am, yeah. It's funny, when I got in the top 50, that was my aim for many years, obviously. It took a while to feel comfortable there, I guess, and kept on moving up. And now I'm, whatever I am, 15th, I feel comfortable here, I must admit. If I can keep improving, who knows where I can get to. No guarantees it's going to be onwards and upwards. But I'll certainly keep working hard to make that happen.

I've done better than I ever thought I would, but not necessarily as well as I could have done. Who knows?

Q. Today's round, 7 and 8 and 9, you were anything happen?


Q. I know what you did

DAVID HOWELL: I played pretty steady the first I wasn't trying to maneuver many shots, hitting most shots fairly straight. I worked hard on the range to finally on 7 I had a straight shot to the front left pin and didn't have the balls, if I can say that, to turn it in from the middle of the green. I practiced away last night and was shaping shots nicely. I said to Mick, let's shape a 7 iron left to right. And I hit the worst shot. And the next one, I tried to shape a shot left to right and hit a worse one, so we gave up on that theory. 9 was a 3 iron, and that was tricky, anyway. So back to not trying to be too clever for the rest of the week.

Q. Have you added more U.S. Tour events this year?

DAVID HOWELL: I'm going to play 15.

Q. Have you seen that Tiger has now been removed from your half of the draw?

DAVID HOWELL: I didn't know that, no.

Q. What's your reaction now that you know?

DAVID HOWELL: Whoever beat him obviously is playing well. It does matter who you play. If Tiger plays great as he did against Stephen the first day, he's going to be almost impossible to beat. But we don't all play well every day. Who beat him?

Q. Chad Campbell.

DAVID HOWELL: He's the man to beat, who knows? I guess it does open it up; maybe you have a chance a little more. But 18 hole matches, anybody can beat anybody.

Q. Back to your career for just a second. When you went from 15 to 50 to 15th, what parts of your game did you improve? How did you make that jump? What areas of your game did you fix?

DAVID HOWELL: I really rededicated myself three or four years ago and changed coaches. And that I've improved all parts of my game marginally, to be honest with you. I drive it slightly straighter; I hit marginally more greens; I putt slightly better; my bunker play is slightly better; and I believe in myself a bit more. Put all that together, and that's probably a shot or two a round and that's all you need.

Q. Did other people get you to believe in yourself more?

DAVID HOWELL: No, I don't think they can. It has to come from within, that's my view.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Congratulations.

End of FastScripts.

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