DAVID Howell continued his love affair with the Czech Masters by posting an excellent first round score of 69 on Thursday.

The Swindon golfer was set to challenge the early leaders - on seven under - when racing to three under par through eight holes.

Yet a disastrous ninth hole dropped the former Broome Manor pro back to level par and he was forced to produce a superb back nine in order to secure a spot in the top-25 after Thursday’s opening round.

Teeing off on the back nine at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague, Howell kicked his tournament off with a birdie on the 603-yard par five 10th hole.

Five consecutive pars followed before the two-time Ryder Cup winner made his move on 16 and 17 with back-to-back birdies.

A delightful two on the 16th preceded Howell’s four on the 17th, only for a potential card-wrecking seven on the 18th to threaten to undo all of the Swindon man’s good work in his opening half of the round.

Yet, Howell hit straight back on the first - his tenth - moving into the red once again on another par-five.

The 43-year-old would not shoot another bogey for the remainder of his round as he birdied his 13th and 16th to move back to three under par for the tournament.

Howell currently finds himself inside the top-25 ahead of his second round on Friday which begins at 12:45 BST alongside Sam Brazel and Michael Pospisil.

Malaysia’s Gavin Green leads the way on eight under after posting a sensational round of 64 that contained nine birdies and just the one dropped shot.