David Howell: Woods hype over the top at Augusta

David Howell on Tiger's return, Spieth's Nicklaus-esque brain & Clarke's captaincy

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 5 May 2015
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European Tour star David Howell reckons the media "got carried away" with Tiger Woods's return at the Masters and says there was "an awful lot of bad" despite his 17th place.  

The two-time Ryder Cup player also believes Jordan Spieth has "the brain of Jack Nicklaus", and says the decision to appoint Darren Clarke as 2016 Ryder Cup captain "was not easy".

Howell, 39, expanded on his agonising runner-up finish at the recent China Open and gave his thoughts on winning around St Andrews in a GolfMagic interview in conjunction with Adams Golf.

Howell on Tiger Woods’s return at the Masters

I thought he did well given what he’s been through not only the last three months but the last year.

It was a wise decision to stay away and come back a better player, but I thought the media got a bit carried away with his brilliance that week.

It was a superb effort to do what he did but there was an awful lot of bad in there. There are still lots of issues with his swing and he’s certainly not back to his best.

I’ve got a bit of a theory that he needs to almost stop striving to be the world’s best player and accept he’s going to have his good weeks and his bad weeks. If he had that mentality I think it would actually allow him to play a bit more consistently.

Tiger Woods: 10 things we learned at Augusta

However, there was an awful lot of good in there too.

What’s amazing with Tiger is people were focusing on the weakness of his pitching, and yet he came back and he was the best pitcher out there.

His short game was the best I’ve seen it at Augusta this year and if he pitches like that in the future then he will be a force in any tournament. It all bodes well for the future.

On Jordan Spieth 

I’ve never met Jordan before but he strikes me as someone who is just good at golf.

What I mean by that is that someone like Tiger or Rory [McIlroy] is strangely talented and more naturally gifted, but Jordan doesn’t do anything that a lot of players can’t, he just does it all more consistently and better.

Swing sequence: Jordan Spieth

The one thing he’s clearly got, it looks to me he’s got the brain of a Jack Nicklaus. His secret weapon is the thing you can’t see, the six inches of grey matter - and that’s the most important six inches in golf.

The future of golf is in great hands. I think you’re going to have Rory, an unbelievably talented, sublime swinger of the golf club, with someone who is a bit more of a cleverer golfer in Jordan.

That will be an interesting mix. I think Rory has the upper edge right now, but you might find out Jordan is going to have a consistency that is unnervingly consistent.

On electing Darren Clarke as the 2016 European Ryder Cup captain

We only had the one meeting but we had lots of time to form our views prior to the meeting.

We had a good chat about the captaincy for two to three hours, but our thoughts were generally very much aligned in that room.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make because there were some great candidates and we were fully aware that Miguel [Angel Jimenez] was very deserving of the captaincy, and he may very well make a good captain in the future, but this time around, we thought everything fitted for Darren [Clarke].

Darren Clarke: a career in pictures

Not only is he a popular figure with his peers but he has an impressive Ryder Cup record both as a player and vice captain, so he was hard to overlook as our new captain.

It won’t be an easy task over there, but we think he’ll do a great job and lead us to yet another victory.

On winning a third Ryder Cup cap, after 2004 and 2006

I would love to play in it again.

I wouldn’t say I wake up every day thinking about it as I’m still trying to forge my way back into the world’s top 100 and then the next step will be to make the top 50.

Ultimately, you won’t get in the Ryder Cup unless you’re in the top 50. You’ve got to be in the top 12 players in Europe, and there’s 12 players in the top 50, if not more.

It’s all about improving, playing consistently well and if we can end up in the world’s elite for a year or two, then we can start thinking about making it.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do. 

On his Chinese burn

It’s been two weeks in a row where I’ve had a chance to win a tournament with nine holes to go (Shenzhen International) and then with one hole to go (Volvo China Open), so it’s disappointing not to have bagged one of them.

The China Open was mine to win up the last so you'd think I'd be devastated. I’ve certainly come away from tournaments with that sort of result and been devastated before but I felt in great control on the Sunday so I was pleased from that point of view. 

I played nicely but just hit a couple of poor shots. That’s golf. Why did I hit those poor shots? They weren’t because of pressure or anxiety, I just hit two dodgy shots and that’s what cost me in the end.

I feel positive about everything I'm doing right now and I feel like if I keep doing the same things, then things will finally go my way very soon. 

On winning at St Andrews (venue of this year's Open Championship)

I’ve always played well at St Andrews and been fortunate enough to win there in 2013 at the Dunhill Links. 

I’m a very good long putter. I wouldn’t say I’m the best driver of the ball compared to the other guys on Tour, but there’s a bit of room on the Old Course so that suits me. 

Nick Faldo announces final Open: a career in pictures

I’ve not played an Open at St Andrews before, and that’s very different in the middle of summer. I’ve only played the Dunhill in October which is a bit softer so it will be a different challenge but one I’m looking forward to.

In some ways, I’m not a big goal setter, but one of them was to qualify for the Open at St Andrews and I’ve done that which is great.

On clubs in his bag

I’m still using the TaylorMade SLDR driver in 9.5 degrees, which has been in my bag since late last year.

I haven’t switched to a new driver as it’s hard to remove something that works so well. The drivers are so finely tuned these days that it’s hard to better things sometimes, plus I don’t usually like to mess around.

I’ve got a TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 three-wood which has been in the bag a couple of years, an Adams five-wood which I love as it's great out the rough, new TaylorMade RSi irons, TaylorMade Tour Preferred wedges and a Yes! putter. 

I struggled to get into a new set of irons for a while, my last set was a good five years old, but as soon as I hit the RSi irons on the range, I knew they were spot on.

On his best tip for amateurs

Focus on your good shots, enjoy them, and worry less about your bad ones. 

Just remember that golf is your hobby and for that reason, you should enjoy it.

It’s a frustrating game so just chill and use your handicap as that’s what it’s there for. 

 

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