DAVID Howell slipped back to four shots off the lead at the European Masters following a chequered round in Switzerland today.

The Broome Manor pro carded a one-under-par 69 at Crans Montana to leave himself in a tie for 16th, slightly disappointing given that after the seventh hole he had held the joint lead.

Three dropped shots in the last three holes proved costly, those in contrast to the superb golf Howell had played for the majority of the front nine.

He got off to a storming start at the first - the hole he had birdied on the opening two days - with an eagle three.

Birdies at the fifth and seventh took the Broome Manor pro into a four-way tie at the top before he was pegged back slightly with a bogey six just before the turn.

Dropping a shot at the 11th did not faze the Wiltshireman as he quickly bounced back with gains at 12 and 13.

But the curse of the 14th struck again when he carded his third bogey there in as many days.

Although Howell picked up a stroke at the next, an expensive double bogey on 16 saw him drop back to three shots from the summit.

And a bogey at 18 saw him drop back further.

Scot Richie Ramsay holds the lead on 11-under heading into tomorrow's final round.