DAVID Howell shot six birdies during his first round at the Irish Open, but the Swindon golfer could only finish on one-under-par.

What could have been a sensational opening effort from the Broome Manor pro was undone somewhat by a triple-bogey on the par-four 18th at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in County Antrim yesterday - as Howell finished some six shots off the overall lead.

Starting at the 10th, Howell - who is looking to make his fifth successive cut this weekend - opened at a blistering pace.

Back-to-back birdies on his first two holes seemed to set the former Ryder Cup star on course for an impressive round, and six successive pars appeared to have him on solid footing approaching the turn.

However, luck deserted him at the 18th as he lost three strokes, and he came to the first tee over-par.

Far from letting the situation affect him, Howell quickly claimed a shot back on the 416-yard par-four first, and another two birdies in succession took him back to two-under.

Back-to-back dropped shots on six and seven threatened to ruin his round once more, but Howell birdied nine to keep his head above water and put himself in a decent position going into today’s assault on the Northern Ireland course, which begins at 8.30am.