DAVID Howell made an encouraging start to the Scottish Open in Ayrshire today - and but for a mid-round wobble it could have been even better.

The Swindon player shot a two-under-par opening round of 70 to lie five shots off the early pace, set by Finland's Mikko Ilonen, with England's Ian Poulter and USA star Rickie Fowler among those in the group tied second two shots behind.

Howell's injury-hit 2017 campaign had seen him miss the cut in his last two events, the Open De France and last week's Irish Open, but the two-time Ryder Cup winner put himself in position to end that run ahead of Friday's second round.

Starting on the 10th Howell made the perfect start with a birdie three and a flawless opening nine holes saw him add a further birdie at the long 18th.

Another followed at the part-four second to leave the 42-year-old within touching distance of the leaders but the round then stalled with back-to-back bogeys at the long third and part-four fourth.

Howell though ensured the day ended well with a birdie at his final hole the ninth.

Derry Hill's Jordan Smith carded one birdie and one bogey in a level-par 72.