DAVID Howell shot an opening round of 74 to leave himself with an uphill task to make the cut at this week’s French Open at Le Golf National.

Level par was as good as it got for Howell, regularly dropping shots that were only rescued three times throughout his opening day’s play.

The Swindon man revealed he would be utilising a new mental technique if things got tough during his tournament, but inconsistent golf on Thursday left him loitering around the event’s top-100 as he struggled to put it into practice.

Howell’s first three holes on both the front and back nine would serve as a microcosm to the remainder of his round – a messy trio that featured a par, a double-bogey and a birdie.

After the first of those two sequences occurred on holes one, two and three, two more pars immediately followed before the two-time Ryder Cup moved back to level par thanks to a timely birdie on the 6th.

Howell escaped to the back nine with no further blemishes on his scorecard before a double-bogey on 10 undid his morning’s work.

The former Broome Manor pro snatched a shot back on 11 as a tricky putt was beautifully rolled in on the penultimate par three, only to immediately relinquish another shot on the 12th.

Five further pars threatened to give Howell a chance to recover and build some momentum ahead of a crucial second round, only for another drop shot on the 18th to likely signal an early exit for the Englishman.