Watch out for Dangerous Dave

David Howell is still smarting over his Order of Merit loss to Padraig Harrington last season.

But the straight-talking English ace, 31, plans to get his revenge by conquering the US Tour this season and challenging his former Walker Cup team mate for major titles.

Howell's 2006 season contained so many highs and lows that he has no idea what to expect this term.

But that still won't stop the injury prone Swindon star - better know to his friends as Dangerous Dave - from chasing down Harrington in the world's top ten and trying to become the first European major winner for eight years.

Reflecting on 2006, Howell is still bitterly disappointed that he was overhauled at the top of the money list by Ryder Cup team mates Harrington and Paul Casey.

He looked a certainty to end the season as No 1 when he followed his stunning win over Tiger Woods in the HSBC Champions Tournament with a five shot win in the BMW (PGA) Championship at Wentworth.

Looking back on it all, he said: "It's been a bitter sweet year. After winning the PGA Championship things were going along fantastically and the Order of Merit was there for the taking.

"I didn't manage to pull it off, which was a big disappointment but I won two events and finished the year in the Top 20 in the world rankings and played reasonable stuff in a couple of the majors, so all in all it has been a positive year.

"But I have to admit that not winning the Order of Merit still hurts a bit, even though I still had a chance in Valderrama.

"It was a lot of fun, even down the last couple of shots. If I had holed my seven iron at the last I would still have had a chance of winning the Order of Merit.

"It was disappointing because you don't get many chances in life to win the Order of Merit but that's the way it goes sometimes.

"Fair play to Padraig for sticking to his guns the way he did and getting the results in the last few events. You can't take that away from him and he is a fantastic competitor.

"Right now he is up there in the Top 10 in the world and challenging for Majors and that is where I want to see myself next season."

Howell and Harrington played in the 1995 Walker Cup at Royal Portcawl, where Great Britain and Ireland beat an American side featuring Tiger Woods, Notah Begay and Chris Riley 14-10.

The pair turned professional later that year but Harrington has outshone his former team mate so far, winning 17 times to Howell's four.

But both men had similar ambitions when they took the plunge into the paid ranks, targeting a career as a journeyman professional ahead of the big time.

Howell explained: "When I turned pro I just wanted to make a living. Even a couple of years ago I was striving to get into the top 50 and didn't know if I ever would.

"I remember being delighted when I made the cut at the tour school and knew I would be playing on the Challenge Tour.

"I thought that was a fantastic achievement, but obviously things have gone slightly better since then!"

Dubliner Harrington has gone on to play on three winning Ryder Cup teams and finished fifth in majors five times.

But Howell has yet to do better than his 11th place finish in the Masters in 2005 and he's determined to get his game in shape for the big events by dedicating himself to the PGA Tour this term.

He said: "I have still got a long way to go in this game. There are a lot of players, like Padraig and Luke Donald who are a long way ahead of me in the World Rankings and there is a reason why I am where I am.

"If I want to get up there I have got to prove myself by getting results and if I can continue to work as hard over the next few years there is no reason why I can't get right up there."

Howell broke into the top 10 in the world following his win at Wentworth but finished 2006 ranked 14th.

And still thinks of what might have been were it not for nagging back and shoulder injuries that prevented him from performing to the best of his ability.

His thoughts are now firmly focussed on the season ahead, though he does not plan to play in Europe until he defends the BMW Championship at Wentworth in May.

Determined to follow in Harrington's footsteps by making his mark in the US, he said: "I am starting in the AT&T at Pebble Beach and plan to concentrate mostly on America until later in the year.

"Ryder Cup points start again in September so I'd obviously prefer the tournaments I play in Europe to count towards that.

"I am going to play 15 or 16 events in America and all going well I hope to play in the FedEx Series play-off events at the end of the US season.

"That leaves less room for Europe obviously but when the Ryder Cup points start again in September I will concentrate on Europe again and decide what I am going to do the following year.

"I am more recognised in America now obviously and the more I play over here the more I will be in the minds of the people."

The majors are still his No 1 goal but he admits that he still has some way to go before he can truly consider himself a major champion in waiting like Harrington or Donald.

He said: "The majors are obviously high on my agenda and I'd love to win one.

"But it is easier said than done I have no divine right to win a major. I have got to work hard and get myself in position slowly but surely.

"I haven't put myself in a position to win a major with a round to go but the other lads like Padraig and Luke have so I am sure they will eventually take one of the chances that comes their way."

If Howell continues to improve, he will surely get the chance to gain his Order of Merit revenge on Harrington in one of golf's four big championships.