DAVID Howell was left to rue two bogeys in the opening three holes as his Portugal Masters campaign got off to a stuttering start.
The Broome Manor pro faces an uphill task to make the cut at Oceanico Victoria after carding an opening-round one-over-par 72 yesterday.
Teeing off in one of the first groups in the morning, the former Ryder Cup man found early gains impossible to come by.
He dropped a shot on the par-four first and third holes and parred the rest of the front nine.
After the turn, the 37-year-old looked like he was to continue in the same vein but he picked up a useful birdie four on 12.
Two pars later, Howell sunk a birdie at the par-four 15th, but then immediately dropped a shot at the par-three 16th.
He rounded off the 18 with two further pars and is likely to need an under-par round today if he is to make the cut.
The Wiltshire man tees off at 1.30pm this afternoon alongside Nuno Henriques and Maarten Lafeber.
Englishman Ross Fisher holds the joint lead with Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher on six-under, the latter saying: “There's not much rough and the greens are unbelievably good.
“I got off to a good start, which was nice. When the wind picked up it was pretty tough.”
Also in the chasing pack are Gallacher’s fellow countryman George Murray, while Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed and Christian Nilsson were also hot on the leading duo’s heels.