The 42-year-old, who represented Europe twice at the Ryder Cup in 2004 and 2006, made just four cuts in 21 events this calendar year. His best finish was 48th and, as a result, he earned just €70,374.
It’s a far cry from two years ago, where the five-time European Tour winner racked up more than €1.2m and finished 26th in the Race to Dubai and, although injuries have contributed to his form, he has been surprised by how much of a struggle it has been.
“This year’s been a shocker – my worst by a long way,” he told.
“It’s been two years of hell really. In 2016, my foot was poor and after I seemed to sort things out with that, this year it was my back. It was just one thing after another really.
“The last two years have come as a bit of a shock. In 2014 and 2015, I felt as though my career was back on an upward trend – back in the top 100 and heading in the right direction – and then it all came grinding to a halt. It’s been really frustrating.”
After finishing 181st on this year’s Race to Dubai, Howell is fortunate that he can use ‘one of his three lives’ and compete in 2018 thanks to being inside the all-time top 40 money list category.
However, the Englishman admits he might decide not to use all of those lives if he endures another year like this one in 2018.
“If I have another season like that in 2018, my mindset will be, ‘Well this isn’t much fun’, and I’d start to look for other ways to earn within the industry of golf,” he added.
“The bits of TV that I’ve done so far has been very enjoyable and I’m going to start doing some after-dinner speaking.
“Another year like this and I’ll certainly be thinking much harder about what my plan is – but I’ve got a few gentle irons in the fire.
“I’ve got a family now and it’s a killer – not having the fulfilment of playing well and having a young family at home.”
But Howell, whose most recent win came at the 2013 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, remains positive and harbours aspirations of continuing to play on tour until he’s 50.
“I’m 42 – I’m getting older – but I still love the game,” he said.
“My mindset has always been that I’m a player and I’d like to do what Miguel [Angel Jimenez] has done.
“I’ve had plenty of good times and plenty of bad times. I’d like some more good ones and would love to continue playing until I’m 50, so long as I’m playing nicely and competing.”