DAVID Howell carded a solid opening round of two-under-par at the Dubai Desert Classic today.

A former champion at the event in 1999, the Swindon star could not make the most of perfect golfing conditions at the Emirates Golf Club, but still lies in a tie for 35th at the time of writing.

Teeing off at the 10th, the two-time Ryder Cup winner made a modest start, sinking pars at four of the first five holes with a bogey at 11 setting him back.

However, gains at 16 and 18 saw Howell move under-par for the first time.

The final nine holes were a solid affair, with the 37-year-old picking up a birdie three on the fifth. He eventually finished on 70 and must now wait for the remainder of the field to complete their rounds, as he targets his 11th successive cut.

Howell’s playing partner Richard Sterne of South Africa set the early pace, missing out on equalling Ernie Els’ course record by just one shot as he fired 10-under.