DAVID Howell endured a testing weekend at the Irish Open as he claimed a place in the top 50.

The Broome Manor pro went into the third round full of confidence after shooting a four-under-par 67 to ensure that he made the cut.

However, the 39-year-old blotted his copy book on the fourth hole on Saturday as he walked away with a bogey.

The Swindon star quickly restored par for the round with a birdie on five to keep him three-under for the tournament, however, he made the turn one-over for the day when he bogeyed eight.

Howell restored his composure with solid pars on nine, 10 and 11 but bogeys on 12 and 15 left his round in trouble before a birdie on the 18th saw him finish two-over for the day and one-under overall.

With hopes of a place in the top 20 before going into the final at Fota Island, Howell was going to need a stunning final day.

The former Ryder Cup hero looked as if he would be able make his target as he headed to the seventh tee three-under after birdies on four and six.

But then the reigning Alfred Dunhill Links champion bogeyed seven and eight to see him make the turn on level par for the day.

Howell was now just looking for a solid finish to an indifferent week’s golf in County Cork and after a birdie on 12 coupled with six pars in the run up to the penultimate hole, looked set to do just that.

But a bogey four on the par three 17th left Howell, who celebrates his birthday today, finishing the day on par and one-under overall.

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen sealed victory at the Fota Island resort as he held on to top spot throughout the final day’s play with Danny Willett, who went yesterday’s round in second spot on 11-under-par, unable to apply any pressure and slipping to tied third.

Rory McIlroy had to spend the weekend on the practice greens after he paid the price for a poor first round on Thursday to miss the weekend cut.