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Howell starts well in India
BIRDIES came in twos for David Howell as his strong recent form continued in the opening round of the Avantha Masters this morning.
The Broome Manor pro, without a European Tour win in seven years but in fine fettle since last summer, carded a four-under-par 68 at Jaypee Gardens, the new venue for the Indian tournament.
Howell made gains at the fourth and fifth and 14th and 15th in a round in which he didn't drop a single shot.
That left the Swindonian as the leading Englishman in a tie for 15th and seven shots off the lead held by Chinnarat Phadungsil.
The Thai fired an incredible round of 61 as he birdied eight of the last nine holes, and while Howell's round might have been less explosive, the two-time Ryder Cup winner was delighted with his efforts.
“It was a decent day,” he said.
“It was quite tough in the morning because it was quite windy, it got better in the afternoon which made for lower scores.
“I did well to score four-under. I holed two or three nice putts and there were no bogeys once again, which was great. I also scrambled well when I needed to and that was important.
“I'm always trying to stay patient and I managed to do that, I stuck to my gameplan and hit my shots to their target without too much stress.
“A 61 is a rarity so he (Phadungsil) will be the one to beat with that start. Luckily we have another three rounds to reel him in.
“But it was an amazing round, incredible. The back nine is one of the best he will ever play.”
Jaypee Gardens is a new course for many of the field this week, and Howell revealed it did not play as tough as he had expected beforehand.
“It's billed as India's longest golf course but it really doesn't play that way, so I really don't know how they worked that out,” he said.
“The par fives all seem to be just about reachable for many of the guys.
“There's plenty of birdie chances on the back nine and very little rough which makes scoring easier, although there are places you can slip up.”
Howell is due to tee off at 6.20am GMT tomorrow morning (11.50am local time).