Howell's 2006 year could be called a "swing" season. Not only did he switch back and forth between swing coaches and swing changes, but his performance swung wildly from narrow misses at victory to more missed cuts than he's grown accustomed.
He enters the new era without an exemption for the first time in four years into his hometown Masters Tournament, where he finished in last place in 2006.
"Obviously, my No. 1 goal for next year is to get back into the Masters," Howell said.
"I know that it is attainable, but I need to play well early in the year to get back into the top 50 world ranking. With that said, I have worked very hard this off-season in hopes for a fast start to 2007."
That means playing early and often - a strategy that didn't work well for him two years ago in an exhausting West Coast swing that left him both sick and tired.
"I will play a lot early to get into the top 50." he said. "It is not something that I necessarily think is the best thing to do, but I really have no choice."
Back together with long-time instructor David Leadbetter, Howell has been practicing predominantly parts of his game designed to improve in statistical areas that have gradually deteriorated. Howell's greens in regulation percentage ranking has slipped every season.
"My practice time has been mainly on 100 yards and in, with a nice balance of everything in the area," he said.
RESIDENCE: Orlando, Fla.
HIGH SCHOOL: Westminster
COLLEGE: Oklahoma State
TOUR: PGA (6th year)
EXEMPT STATUS: 52nd on the 2006 money list