IN TEMPERATURES of up to 40 degrees, Swindon’s David Howell saw his chances of making the cut at the Alfred Dunhill Championship wilt away rapidly during Thursday’s opening round.

The 44-year-old began his opening round at Leopard Creek Golf Club with aspirations of beginning the 2020 European Tour season with a top-20 finish.

However, after a scatter gun opening nine holes – in which Howell two holes under par and four holes over – those hopes were quickly extinguished.

The former Broome Manor pro began his first round of the new season with a birdie on the par-four 10th hole before dropping a shot on both the 11th and 12th.

The par-five 13th presented Howell with an opportunity to scramble back to level par – a chance that he took through a tidy four-stroke display.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner continued his par-less start with a double-bogey on the 14th before another bogey on the next.

During the 2019 season, Howell had made a habit of enduring two contrasting halves of a round – this time in South Africa was no different in terms of his scoring at least.

Beginning the front nine on three over, the 44-year-old added another unwanted shot to his card with a bogey on the first before stringing seven consecutive pars together in a bid to consolidate his waning game.

However, with just the 18th to play, Howell shot a six on the par four hole to drop his score back to six over par for the tournament and leave him narrowly inside the top 150.

Meanwhile, fellow Wiltshire players Laurie Canter and Steve Surry enjoyed reasonable opening rounds.

Canter shot five birdies to post a one-under first 18 while Surry battled to remain one over.