DAVID Howell struggled on his return to European Tour action at the BMW International Open in Germany today, but there was better news for Wiltshire's other two competitors in the field, Jordan Smith and Laurie Canter.

Swindon's two-time Ryder Cup winner Howell was returning to competitive action in Munich for the first time since a back injury forced him out of the Nordea Masters earlier this month – and to the site of his victory in this tournament in 2005.

However, Howell, who celebrates his 42nd birthday tomorrow, faced an uphill struggle to stay around for the weekend after a three-over first-round 75 at Golfclub München Eichenried.

The Wiltshire man's day got off to a poor start as he bogeyed the opening hole, but he immediately repaired the damage with a birdie at the short second and got into red figures for the first time with a birdie at the fifth.

He returned to level par with a six at the long ninth before dropping further shots on 12 and 14 and concluding an unhappy inward nine with a bogey at the short 17th.

Derry Hill's Smith meanwhile carded a two-under-par 70, featuring three birdies, to lie six off the lead held by Australian Wade Ormsby.

Canter, based at the Cumberwell Park club in Bradford on Avon, resuced his opening round with a run of four birdies in his final four holes.

He was five over par after bogeys at his opening two holes, the 10th and 11th then a double-bogey at the short second, followed by another dropped shot at the third.

However, he birdied home from the sixth for a 73 to give himself a fighting chance of making the cut.

Canter's clubmate Steve Surry also made an encouraging start to the Made In Denmark Challenge event on the Challenge Tour event at the Royal Oak GC, Vejen/Kolding today.

Enjoying a rare start on Europe's second-tier tour, Surry carded an opening round of 70, two under par.