DAVID Howell is on course to make his first European Tour cut of 2017 after a fine two-under first round of 70 at the Shenzhen International in China this morning.

Swindon star Howell has had a torrid time so far in the current calendar year and failed to make the weekend’s final two rounds for the sixth tournament in succession at last week’s Trophee Hassan II in Morocco.

However, that barren spell looks set to be ended at Genzon Golf Club, with the 41-year-old well positioned to make his first cut since the UBS Hong Kong Open back in December.

After opening up with back-to-back pars, Broome Manor man Howell recorded an early birdie at the short third hole, although that shot was swiftly surrendered after a bogey at the next.

Howell did not dwell on that for too long, though, and was immediately back in red figures after another birdie on the fifth.

That kicked off a superb sequence for the two-time Ryder Cup winner as he also picked up shots on the seventh and ninth to make it four birdies in seven holes and reach the turn with a three-under 33.

Howell was unable to carry that momentum into his back nine, though, and after a run of four pars in a row, he dropped a shot with a bogey at the 14th to slip back to two-under.

The ship was soon steadied, though, and a sequence of four further pars ensured Howell was safely back in the clubhouse at two-under and he is currently four shots off the clubhouse lead held by the American two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson.

Howell will tee off his second round at 5.10am BST tomorrow alongside South African Justin Walters and Australia’s Jason Scrivener.

Visit www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk to keep up-to-date with Howell’s progress in China.