DAVID Howell carded a bogey-free round of 69 on the second day’s play at the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

Far contrasting to his opening round eight over par on Thursday, Howell came back refreshed and pulled three shots back to finish on five over for the tournament.

In particularly tricky playing conditions that left the final cut line on two over par, the 44-year-old will be pleased with the character he was able to show to forget a horrendous opening day’s play and keep any kind of dropped shot off his card.

Ranked as the second best driver of the ball – in terms of driving accuracy – the two-time Ryder Cup winner consistently put himself in good positions in the fairway and plotted his way around a course that was catching out so many of his vastly more inexperienced peers.

And although Howell would not be named as the winner of the tournament overall, he could at least take solace from the fact he was ranked the best at scrambling out of the 140-plus names in the field.

Howell began his second round on the back nine and immediately took down the par five that saw the 44-year-old drop a shot in the opening day’s play.

Buoyed by his flying start, the former Broome Manor pro parred the following two holes before taking another shot from the course in the subsequent par five.

A solid if not unspectacular next seven holes came and went with no further punishment to the Emirates Golf Club.

And as many in the chasing pack behind leader Eddie Pepperell fell away through the front nine holes, Howell continued on his merry way.

The five-time European Tour event winner claimed yet another birdie from the par-five third before rolling home in level par through his last six holes of the week.

Elsewhere, Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith is into the weekend in a tie for 18th following a two-under second round.

Smith struck one eagle, two birdies and two bogeys in his round of 70, yet the Derry Hill man is still some six shots behind leader Pepperell.