UPBEAT David Howell was thrilled with his seven-shot improvement at the Volvo Golf Champions but admitted there was still room for improvement with the putter.

The Broome Manor pro fired a three-under-par 69 at Durban Country Club in South Africa yesterday, significantly better than the four-over he managed on day one, leaving him one-over heading into this morning’s third round.

One-under at the turn yesterday following birdie fours at the third and eighth and a bogey at the seventh, Howell scored a fraction better on the back nine.

A birdie on the 10th was swiftly cancelled out by a dropped shot at the 11th, but gains at the 14th and 15th - including a two on the latter hole - put the 38-year-old in good shape.

“I played beautifully today. I felt like I gave myself chances,” said Howell.

“In many ways it was a similar story to (Thursday) in that I had a number of good opportunities but the greens are very difficult to read and I didn’t take them.

“With that in mind I’m delighted with three-under. It was a good round of golf, I was in control of the ball and didn’t do anything wrong really.

“The dropped shot on the seventh came off a beautiful swing but I just misjudged the wind and then couldn’t get it down in two.

“The greens are small so if you get it on then you’ve got a chance of a birdie, but they are very grainy and difficult to read.

“Bearing in mind I missed a couple, it was pleasing to shoot 69 and feel I could have done better.”

Howell might be in the lower half of the leaderboard but there is no cut in the event in KwaZulu-Natal Province so he is guaranteed two further rounds this weekend.

And the Swindonian is hopeful that he can climb further up the standings in a 35-strong elite field.

“It would be nice to keep moving forward from where we are and that in itself would be a pretty decent first week of the year,” he said.

“Two more rounds like I played today would be ideal.”

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was in a three-way tie for the overnight lead with Joost Luiten and Louis Oosthuizen.

  • COLIN Beresford has retired as secretary at Broome Manor after eight years in the job.

During his spell at the Swindon club, Beresford worked on behalf of 600 members and was captain of the seniors in his final year.

Retirement appeared to do Beresford’s game the power of good as in his first club competition since calling it a day, he scored 43 stableford points to win Division One.

The role of secretary has now been assumed by Tony White, whose father Gerry was the first secretary of Broome Manor when the club opened in 1976.

Gerry sadly died three weeks later and now the club holds one of its biggest trophies of the year in his name.

At the time his father took over, Tony was a 12-year-old junior member and when the first competition was played in June 1976, he scored 92 (nett 67) to finish top of the pile.

In 1987, Tony, the now Broome pro Steve Robertson and Brian McCallum triumphed for Ogbourne Downs (then Swindon GC), at the English Champion Club finals.