Swindon’s own David Howell has dropped off the scene in the major golfing tournaments. The 45-year-old was once ranked in the top 10 during the mid-00s due to an impressive run of form on the European Tour.
Howell claimed the BMW Championship with a fine performance at Wentworth in 2006, the signature moment of his individual career. His form during that period was rewarded with his selection into the Ryder Cup teams of 2004 and 2006.
On both occasions, Howell was part of a triumphant European team under the tenures of Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam. The Englishman more than pulled his weight, winning a combined 3.5 points in his five matches. Players of Howell’s ilk have epitomised the success of Europe in the competition over the last 20 years.
Although the USA may boast the star power in their ranks, the nature of the Ryder Cup focuses on the team rather than the individual. Therefore, it’s surprising that Europe are considered the underdogs for the 2021 competition with the leading bookmakers where you can also find information about golf betting and odds. The States have won only one of the last five competitions due to the lack of composure and togetherness on the course, but are still favourites in the minds of the bookies. However, the unity of their squad will be under the spotlight.
Howell is a prime example of a player that has put the team first and has performed at a high level in doing so. European players more so than their counterparts from the United States buy into the event. He enjoyed a lot of high moments on the course, including his BMW Championship and a HSBC Champions’ title, finishing ahead of Tiger Woods in the process. But Howell’s best moment on the golf course will no doubt have been representing Europe in those dominant victories.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0byRIKPeCPc" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
He and Paul Casey formed a strong team in 2006 to hammer Stewart Cink and Dustin Johnson. Howell then took centre stage to ease past Brett Wetterich by a 5 & 4 margin. The win over Wetterich was Howell’s final act in the Ryder Cup, but the prevalence of players of his ilk have been key in victories for Europe in the last decade.
In 2014, another unheralded player, Jamie Donaldson, played an important role for Paul McGinley’s side as he claimed three out of a possible four points, including beating Keegan Bradley in his singles match. In 2012, Nicolas Colsaerts was part of a team with Lee Westwood that beat Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker on day one at Medinah. As any golf fan will tell you, that point was crucial in producing Europe’s miraculous victory on the final day of the competition. Two years earlier, Ross Fisher embraced his role to great effect, winning two important points in another close contest between the two sides.
We will wait and see which next unheralded player takes centre stage for Europe. All golf fans are aware of the star men that will be on the course, but those other men in the ranks can make all the difference between success and failure. Europeans seem to embrace the role more than their American rivals, which has played a huge role in their success.