Partners in Crime

Golf Monthly's playing editor takes a look back at his 2010 season

David Howell

Two coaches were used as were two caddies, well three if you include the wife, but in the end there was only one top-ten finish. A Race to Dubai ranking of 96 and a world ranking of 427. That was the 2010 season summed up in numbers.

So how was it emotionally? I struggle to remember exactly how I was feeling heading to the first tournament of the year, but I know my goals were at the very least to make the season-ending Dubai World Championship and hopefully the Ryder Cup team. I left that first tournament in Johannesburg having shot 73 twice with Anders Hansen's discarded spare set of clubs, as my clubs had ended up in New York. It was perhaps a bad omen, as it would take until October to have a top-ten finish.

My 2007 had been a year blighted by injury and my worst finish on the end-of-year rankings could be put down to that. In 2008 I had a reasonable bounce back and was largely injury free, but 41 on the Order of Merit was still a far cry from the highs of 2006 when I nearly won it.

Throughout 2009 I was blighted by off-course drama and truthfully I guess that took its toll on my game as it turned out to be my worst ever season on tour. So I had my work cut out to bounce back from that. The Ryder Cup was obviously a lofty goal from where I was coming from but the top 60 is generally where I have resided over my career.

A healthy body and mind left me with no excuses, but the first section of the year was a disaster. By the end of the Middle East swing I made the decision to return to my old coach Clive Tucker. Another change came the following week when my caddie Vernon took the week off and the wife had a go at lugging the clubs about.

A small carry bag was dispatched by Cleveland and Emily got rid of all unnecessary items to lighten the load, including all my golf gloves and balls. A gentle reminder was needed as to why we were there and I pointed out that although I realise golf balls are not as important as lip gloss and moisturiser, I think they should at least find their way into the bag.

Emily turned out to be quite the motivator as it happened, and my favourite quote was 'David, are you going to moan for the next two hours about what has just happened or are you going to concentrate on your next shot, because if it is the former then I am off to the clubhouse for a cold one'.

Mind you she was not quite so good when after day two she flat-out refused to walk another yard with that bag. Talk about role reversal! A bath, massage, cup of tea and motivational speech were needed for her to make the first tee on Saturday.

By the middle of the year it was clear that my goals had to change and keeping my tour card, (although I am still exempt from my PGA win) was my first priority. Nobody likes to finish outside the top 115, even if you are exempt, and 8th place at the Dunhill Links took care of that. This was a week after the incredible Ryder Cup at which I was privileged to work at with Sky Sports. In some ways the highlights of my year came during my TV work. With G-Mac and Kaymer winning in America and then Celtic Manor and all its excitement, I would have to say that so forgettable was my own golf that I took more joy, in some ways, from the amazing feats of my colleagues.

Thankfully the last two months of the season, buoyed by the top-10 finish in Scotland, have been the best months of the year and my form is generally there or thereabouts. I am swinging as free of thought as I have for years; I am hitting more greens in regulation than for some time and I'm looking forward to next year when hopefully I will be able to talk about some of my own golfing achievements, rather than those of my friends.

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