DAVID Howell faces an uphill task to make the cut at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters tomorrow after carding a five-over-par 76 on the opening day in Spain.

Swindon's Howell, who made his first cut on the European Tour since mid-July at the Italian Open near Milan last week, slipped towards the back of the field after a tough first day at Sotogrande.

Starting on the 10th the two-time Ryder Cup winner made a steady enough start, parring his first four holes, but slipped over par for the first time with a bogey at the par-four 14th.

His struggles continued at the long 17th hole as he ran up a double-bogey seven, reaching the turn in 39 strokes.

The turn for home started badly for Howell as he bogeyed the par four second hole before carding his first and only birdie of the day at the fifth.

However, that shot was returned immediately at the short sixth and a further bogey followed on his last hole, the ninth.

Tournament host, the Masters champion Sergio Garcia was among the early leaders and was joined on five under par by the Dutch player Joost Luiten.

Howell was due off in his second round at 9.35 local time tomorrow morning.