Howell aims high in quest to become global force

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The Independent Online

David Howell, the European No 1, has set his sights on winning his first Order of Merit title and then becoming a global force in the game. A victory in the French Open, which starts at Le Golf National here today, would help him on the way.

Howell leads the money list by £330,000 from his fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey, a winner last week at Gleneagles, having clocked up two victories and two top-10 finishes this season. But with neither Casey nor Colin Montgomerie, third on the money list, in the field the 31-year-old has a chance can extend his advantage here.

"Strangely, last summer just before the US Open I was second in the Order of Merit and almost as soon as I decided my goal for the rest of the year was to win it I got injured and was out for two months," he said yesterday. "This year things have gone slightly better than that and I am still No 1 midway through season.

"Certainly one of my goals at the start of the year was to win the Order of Merit. It is going to be difficult but I have a nice head start."

With a first prize of £458,000 on offer at Le Golf National, Howell could give himself a real boost before of an important six weeks which takes in a number of big tournaments, including the Open at Hoylake.

Yet the Englishman has designs further afield as well. "I am a better player than I was two or three years ago and that is just through hard work and improving my technique," he added. "I think the natural step for me, if I could plan my career, would be to win in America. I haven't put myself in that situation yet. Then the next step is to try to win a major.

"Before I didn't dream I could contend in a major - at least now I think there is no reason why I can't contend or even win one.

"My mindset has changed slightly. I am No 1 in the Order of Merit and I'm in a situation whereby if I didn't win it I would possibly be disappointed."