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Date added: 06 April 2008

Play-off agony - but he's back! 

Swindon star Howell hits top form on the Algarve
 
David Howell Swindon
Back in the swing:
Swindon's David Howell
David Howell came oh so close to winning his 5th Tour title this weekend – and putting a nightmare 12 months behind him.
 
The Swindon golf star narrowly beaten in a play-off for the Portugese Open, after a final round 64 catapulted him into contention from six shots back and into a three-way playoff.
 
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy unfortunately pipping Howell at the second-extra hole of sudden-death, after the Broome Manor member shot through the back of the green with his approach and failed to make his par-making putt.
 
Alastair Forsyth, also tied on 18-under, having been eliminated at the first extra hole.
 
Howell’s second place, however, was the best result he'd recorded in over a year; a self-confessed ‘annus horribilus’ for the 2006 PGA Champion, whose been plagued by a series of back injuries and poor form.
 
“I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to be in contention!” Howell joked after the prize presentation, “but I have to be pleased with my performance.”
 
“That was one of the best scoring rounds I’ve put together for a long time. And it’s given me a lot of confidence back.
 
“Let’s hope I can build on this.”
 
Missing the Masters
 
Howell, who earned just shy of £80,000 for his efforts, will unfortunately not be playing in the US Masters next week, after finishing 44th there last year, 17th in 2006 and 11th on his debut in 2005.
 
His world ranking, which has plummeted to 237 after being in the top ten eighteen months ago, outside the top 50 who qualify for automatic invites.
 
"The thought that I'm getting back to my best will only just make up for the disappointment of not being there," Howell added.
 
"Augusta is one of my favourite courses and I've always played well there.
 
"It'll be tough watching it on TV knowing I should really be there."
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