GOLF: Victory a sweet moment after Howell's years of despair (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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GOLF: Victory a sweet moment after Howell's years of despair
9:00am Monday 30th September 2013 in Sport
WILTSHIRE star David Howell celebrated reaching the end of a "long, long road from the depths of despair" after claiming his first European Tour title in seven years by beating American Peter Uihlein in a sudden-death play-off at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Howell carded a final round of 67 to set the clubhouse target at St Andrews and then watched as overnight leader Uihlein missed from 15 feet for a winning birdie on the 18th, meaning the pair finished tied on 23 under par.
Both players narrowly missed long birdie attempts on the first extra hole but Howell, who had lost all four of his previous play-offs, made no such mistake from eight feet when action switched to the 18th to claim the title and first prize of £495,000.
Howell, from Swindon, was ranked as high as ninth in the world in June 2006, shortly after winning the PGA Championship at Wentworth, but six years later was down in 367th after a number of injuries and loss of form.
The 38-year-old, who will be back in the world's top 100 on Monday, also revealed that off-course issues had contributed to his slump, but could not be happier that wife Emily is expecting twins in December; the couple already have an 18-month old son, Freddie.
"It's incredible, the sun is shining and the crowd have come out," said Howell, who played in both record nine-point Ryder Cup wins in 2004 and 2006. "I have never played in an Open Championship here but to win a golf tournament as a professional at the Home of Golf is quite amazing and I am really thrilled.
"I was really nervous all week and strangely less nervous today - I can't explain that at all. I stayed calm and smooth under pressure and that was really pleasing.
"It's been a long, long road from the depths of despair. I have had a lot of support from people around me and this is as much for them as it is for me.
"The downs were pretty low and I lost my way in life and on the Tour as well. Off course I was not a happy camper and made some bad decisions around 2008 and took some time to sort through them.
"I owe Emily a debt of gratitude for having me back and showing me that we were always going to be a happy couple in the end.
"This is a sweet moment to be happy and settled with Emily and Freddie at home and the twins on the way and to win a massive championship seals the deal. Hopefully it can spur me onto bigger and better things."
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