DAVID Howell opened up the Mauritius Open with a level-par round of 72 on Thursday morning.

Swindon star Howell is seeking to make his first cut of the 2020 European Tour season after retiring from last week's season-opening event in South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championships.

Howell's efforts at Heritage Golf Club in Heritage Bel Ombre have left him just outside the top 70 on the leaderboard after the opening round.

Matching that performance – or even improving upon it slightly – in round two on Friday could well see the 44-year-old qualify for the weekend action.

Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard and Frenchman Benjamin Hebert currently lead the way after six-under first rounds of 66.

Teeing off at the 10th hole, Howell's first round began in solid fashion as he put together a run of four pars in a row.

A first birdie of the day arrived at number 14 – Howell's fifth – to bring the Broome Manor man into red figures.

Another sequence of four pars in a row followed as he reached the turn at one-under.

Par opened up the back nine for Howell before he promptly recorded a second birdie to reach two-under.

However, that previous good work was undone as back-to-back bogeys followed to bring Howell back to level par.

A third birdie was posted at hole five – Howell's 14th – to see him climb under par again.

After par at the next, the two-time Ryder Cup winner found himself back level for the day with a third bogey.

And Howell was unable to improve upon that before returning to the clubhouse as two more pars to finish his round meant he signed for a level-par 72.

Howell tees off his second round at 7.40am GMT on Friday morning.