SWINDON golfer David Howell got off to a good start at the Singapore Open in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Howell carded a two-under-par first round of 69 to sit three strokes behind the overnight clubhouse leader, Thomas Bjorn.

The Broome Manor pro is closing in on qualification for the Race to Dubai grand final at the end of the month, and needs another good finish this weekend to slip into the top 60.

Howell shot five birdies, one bogey and one double bogey at the Sentosa Golf Club.

After opening with three pars, the former Ryder Cup star shaved a stroke off his score at the par-five fourth but immediately slipped back over-par with a double-bogey six on the fifth.

Birdies at seven and 10 made up for that error but Howell dropped a shot on the 13th to move back to level par.

However, the 37-year-old has developed a gritty resolve in recent weeks and fought hard to fire further birdies on 14 and 16 to end two under.

Roughly half of the field, which includes Major winners Michael Campbell and Rory McIlroy amongst its numbers, failed to finish their first round after play was called off for the day due to a massive thunderstorm in the area.

The players will attempt to complete both their first and second rounds on Friday, where Howell is due to tee off at 2.55pm local time alongside Alejandro Canizares and David Gleeson.

Meanwhile, leader Bjorn - who is in pursuit of his first title in 14 months - said the humidity around the Sentosa Golf Club was not impeding his game.

He said: β€œWe get quite used to it, but you've just got to pace yourself a little bit and not use too much energy.

β€œIt's quite nice for the body to be feeling warm and nice out there - no cold for the old joints to get you into trouble.”