A FINAL round of two-over-par saw David Howell slip out of contention for his first European Tour title in six years.

The Swindon star had been joint top of the leaderboard at the European Masters midway through Saturday’s third round, but dropped three shots in the last two holes and then could not recover yesterday.

He got off to a storming start at Crans Montana’s first hole on Saturday with an eagle three, and birdies at five and seven took the Broome Manor pro into a four-way tie at the top.

The Wiltshire man threw in bogeys at nine and 11, but he quickly bounced back with gains at 12 and 13.

A bogey and birdie followed, before an expensive double bogey on 16 saw him drop back to three shots from the summit. And a bogey at 18 saw him fall away further.

Howell gave himself hope of pulling in the leaders with two birdies at the opening two holes yesterday, but bogeys at five and nine more than cancelled out his gain at the sixth.

From there on in, matters worsened. The ex-Ryder Cup man carded by far his worst back nine of the week, failing to notch up any birdies.

He bogeyed the 13th and 15th and hit a disappointing six on the latter hole. A further bogey followed on the 16th, leaving Howell’s brief reign at the top of the standings a distant memory.