DAVID Howell continued his sparkling start to the Saudi International with a one-under second round of 69.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner ended his first round in fantastic style – hitting three consecutive birdies late on to finish two under and inside the competition’s top 30.

Howell then shot three birdies and a bogey during the first 17 holes of Friday’s action which would have seen the Swindon man tied for 12th.

Yet a second bogey of the day on 18 dropped the 44-year-old down to a tie for 18th.

Howell began his second round on the back nine with two birdies in three holes and was temporarily within three shots of the leaders.

However, a cluster of players improved their scores while the five-time European Tour event winner trotted out a decade of pars.

A further birdie was picked up by Howell on the front nine, only for the Swindon man to immediately hand a shot back on the next hole.

On course for a serious crack at the top-10, Howell posted another untimely bogey on the last to leave him three-under for the tournament.

Though Howell is likely too far back to mount a charge for the title, the former Broome Manor pro will see this as his best opportunity for years to obtain some significant prize money and ranking points.

Not to mention, a top-20 finish will do his chances of securing his European Tour card for next season the world of good – perhaps easing the pressure he might be feeling ahead of his last guaranteed year.