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Healthy again David Howell returns to PGA Tour

Britain's David Howell, frustrated by injuries at the end of last year, exuded confidence as he prepared for his first appearance on the 2007 PGA Tour.

Howell launches his U.S. campaign at this week's Nissan Open and is already looking forward to the April 5-8 Masters, the major he believes is best suited to his game.

"I'm feeling really good now," the 31-year-old Englishman said during a teleconference on Tuesday.

"Towards the end of last year, I probably played too much and was sort of going from week-to-week with different ailments that held me back a little bit.

"I took six weeks off and didn't even hit a shot over the winter until I came back at Dubai," Howell added, referring to last month's Dubai Desert Classic where he missed the cut.

"I was a little rusty there but my body felt quite well. Overall my body is feeling, for me, good. I have no excuses this week here in L.A."

Howell, who made his biggest impact by holding off Tiger Woods to win the Champions tournament in China in late 2005, feels the Masters is his likeliest opportunity for a major breakthrough.

"I get a great feeling every year I've gone there that I can play well, and I've had fleeting moments of excellence during the week," he said.

"I had some moments where I was sort of in the lead and in third place after a couple of rounds in my first year.

"That was uncharted territory for me in a major; the daunting experience of playing with Tiger in that delayed third round, which threw me just a little bit."

Howell started the second round at the 2005 Masters with five birdies in his first seven holes to vault into a share of the lead before sliding back over the weekend into a tie for 11th.

"I certainly get a great feeling when I go to Augusta National," he added. "I think my short game is certainly my strength and Augusta traditionally gives you a little space off the tee.

"Generally, unless you hit a really poor tee shot, you are attacking the green with your second shots. It's a course that gives me lots of opportunity to use my short game.

"I guess that's what suits me about the place. It's a case of being able to continue that all four rounds. Hopefully this year we can do that."

Howell is scheduled to tee off at 1250 local (2050 GMT) in Thursday's opening round of the Nissan Open at Riviera Country Club.

February 14, 2007


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