DAVID Howell’s liking for the Crans Montana course must have deepened even further yesterday after he shot a superb round at the Swiss venue.

The Swindon star, currently in the midst of a rich vein of form, is a huge fan of Crans Montana and delivered a fine 18 holes in the Omega European Masters.

Firing a five-under-par 66 put the ex-Ryder Cup man in a tie for fourth and three shots off the lead held by Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.

Starting at the 10th, the Broome Manor pro’s opening nine were solid, as he opened with a birdie on the par four and added three pars. A bogey on the 14th was as bad as matters got, as three further pars were followed by another gain at the 18th.

After the turn, Howell was inspired.

He birdied the par five first and after pars at the second and third, picked up shots on the next two holes.

Another birdie at the seventh had him practically on the brink of the outright lead, before pars at the final two holes saw him nestling comfortably in fourth.

Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed and Englishman Oliver Fisher are currently in second on six-under ahead of today’s second round.

Anirban Lahiri, Rhys Davies and Robert Coles are among the chasing pack with Howell.

The Swindon player begins his second round at 12.50pm this afternoon (13.50pm local time), alongside Martin Rominger and Gareth Maybin.