GOLFER David Howell endured a nightmare start to the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday after posting an opening round eight over par.

Birdies littered the Swindon man’s scorecard as Howell struggled to move past a simple missed putt on the sixth which saw him drop a shot.

Following an up and down week at the Abu Dhabi Championship a tournament prior to this one, Howell continued to struggle in the United Arab Emirates.

The 44-year-old made last week’s cut before finishing bottom of the pile courtesy of two lacklustre rounds at the weekend.

Though Howell is not bottom of this tournament – his eight over par has left him in a tie for 123rd – only six players that are left in contention had a worse opening round.

In tough conditions, Howell opened up with a par before dropping a shot on the second.

Two further pars followed before three consecutive bogeys lined up after that – the middle of which should have been saved, but a missed putt inside six feet slipped away from the former Broome Manor pro.

Four over for his opening nine, Howell’s Thursday did not improve down the back straight as three more bogeys appeared in the next four holes.

Howell’s eighth and final bogey of the day came on the par-three 15th prior to three consecutive pars to lead home.

Despite sitting fifth in terms of driving accuracy out of the 150 players, Howell’s usually consistent putting badly let him down.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner is now highly unlikely to make the cut, despite level par being good enough to make it into the top-30 players on the opening day.

Elsewhere, Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith finished his opening round with a level par score of 72.

Smith was unable to capitalise on a decent opening nine as three birdies and three bogeys littered his scorecard in Dubai.