Dunhill Links Championship: David Howell thrilled to end seven-year title drought at St Andrews
Last Updated: 30/09/13 10:10am
David Howell alongside pro-am playing partner Hugh Grant
David Howell declared himself "thrilled" to end his seven-year wait for his fifth European Tour title at the Home of Golf.
The popular Englishman lifted the substantial Alfred Dunhill Links Championship trophy after edging out Peter Uihlein with a birdie at the second play-off hole at St Andrews.
It was Howell's first win since the 2006 BMW Championship, and he was delighted to return to the winner's circle in such a superb setting amid the late afternoon sunshine on the the Old Course.
"It's incredible, the sun is shining and the crowd have come out," said Howell, 38. "I have never played in an Open Championship here but to win a golf tournament as a professional at the Home of Golf is quite amazing and I am really thrilled.
"I was really nervous all week and strangely less nervous today, I can't explain that at all. I stayed calm and smooth under pressure and that was really pleasing."
Howell's BMW Championship win moved him into the world's top 10 for the first time, but a dramatic slump in form saw him drop out of the top 500 and he was ranked 176th heading into this week's tournament.
He also revealed that off-course issues had contributed to his downfall, but a brief split with his wife Emily was resolved and the couple, who have an 18-month-old son, are now expecting twins in December
"It's been a long, long road from the depths of despair," he added. "I have had a lot of support from people around me and this is as much for them as it is for me.
"The downs were pretty low and I lost my way in life and on the Tour as well. Off course I was not a happy camper and made some bad decisions around 2008 and took some time to sort through them.
"I owe Emily a debt of gratitude for having me back and showing me that we were always going to be a happy couple in the end.
"This is a sweet moment to be happy and settled with Emily and Freddie at home and the twins on the way and to win a massive championship seals the deal.
"Hopefully it can spur me onto bigger and better things."
Meanwhile, Tom Lewis celebrated his best finish of the season after a superb closing 64 left him just one shot outside the play-off on 22 under.
Lewis began the week 155th on Race to Dubai with only the top 110 in three weeks' time keeping their card for next season, but a share of third place with Shane Lowry lifted the 22-year-old to 90th.
"It's a great week and my best of the year so hopefully I can go forward from here," said Lewis, who was the leading amateur in the Open in 2011 and then won the Portugal Masters in his third event as a professional.
"I have had spells of playing well but something in my game let me down. This week it all came together and links golf suits me."