DAVID Howell was left with a glass half-empty outlook after carding a one-over-par 73 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

Swindon’s European Tour star, who teed off at the 10th at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, was two-under at the turn but then dropped shots on the fourth, sixth and ninth.

That meant he was tied 63rd and halfway up the leaderboard heading into today’s second round, which did not fulfil the 38-year-old’s expectations.

“It was a round of two halves,” admitted Howell.

“It was a bit of a frustrating day. I hit the ball nicely and hit a lot of fairways which is what you need to do in Abu Dhabi, but I didn’t get the best out of my round.

“I didn’t do a lot wrong and was very disappointed to finish on one-over having been two-under through the first nine.

“I had good chances on the first and second, my 10th and 11th, but couldn’t take them.

“When I dropped shots at the fourth and sixth, both times it was with a seven iron. One went long and the other came up short.

“Then I just missed the fairway on the ninth and got a really shocking lie that cost me and it ultimately culminated in a bad score.”

The rough in Abu Dhabi was a topic of serious debate yesterday after Spanish star Sergio Garcia admitted that he perceived it as dangerous.

The former Open Championship runner-up worsened a shoulder problem hitting out of the longer grass and Howell admitted it was a major trap to fall into.

“The rough is brutal. It’s certainly as thick a rough as you will play in outside of the major championships,” said Howell.

“It’s always been thick here but it seems to be even worse this year, so it’s a bit of a brute of a course.”

Howell was due to begin his second round at 4am GMT (8am local time) this morning, He added: “I’ve got no worries about I’ve been hitting the ball, but I’ve just got to hope the second round goes my way aa bit more.

There’s no reason why it can’t happen.”

There was a three-way tie for the lead overnight with England’s Matthew Baldwin, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello and France’s Romain Wattel all locked on five-under.