Howell sparkles in Ireland
Six weeks after Rory McIlroy finished the US Open 16 under par and David Howell 10 over, it was a very different story at Killarney on Saturday.
Paired together for the third round of the Irish Open, world number 282 Howell fired a superb 64 in wind and rain to charge all the way from joint 25th into a tie for the lead with Simon Dyson and Richard Green.
But world number four McIlroy, whose record-breaking total at Congressional gave him his first major title by a massive eight strokes, dropped back to joint 32nd with a one-over-par 72.
The 22-year-old's week now looks destined to be remembered only for 'Twittergate' - his telling former European Tour player Jay Townsend - or "failed golfer" as McIlroy preferred to describe him - to "shut up" after criticism of his course management.
To the inevitable disappointment of the massive crowds, last year's US Open champion Graeme McDowell could not force himself into the thick of the title action either.
On his 32nd birthday McDowell also managed only a 72 after resuming four under as well and described himself as "seriously confused" by the greens.
Howell, known as one of golf's best putters when he was beating Tiger Woods head to head in 2005 and then leaving the rest for dead in the PGA Championship at Wentworth the following May, had no such problems.
So now the man who almost fell outside the world's top 500 from ninth after that five-shot win in the Tour's flagship event has a chance to end more than five nightmare years without a victory.
He would have led on his own had fellow Englishman Dyson not birdied the 17th and Australian left-hander Green the last, both for rounds of 67.