DAVID Howell's first event of the 2020 European Tour season ended prematurely after he was forced to retire from the Alfred Dunhill Championships in South Africa.

The Swindon star had completed eight holes of his second round on Friday at Leopard Creek Country Club when he opted to withdraw from the tournament.

Howell was well down the leaderboard at the time, continuing his struggles from the opening day in Malelane when he began the event with a six-over round of 78.

Four more shots were dropped on Friday, meaning the Broome Manor man was well out of contention at 10-over and heading towards a missed cut when he decided to pull out of the event.

After an opening par, Howell recorded his first bogey of the day at the second hole.

A run of three pars in a row followed but the struggles returned and he posted double bogey at the sixth hole before adding another bogey at the seventh.

Although he carded a par at the next, Howell opted not to complete his front nine and instead retired from the event altogether.

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal is the halfway leader in South Africa, carding a three-over second round of 69 to go alongside an opening 66 to reach nine-under overall.

That is three shots clear of nearest challengers Branden Grace and Wil Besseling.

Another Wiltshire golfer Steve Surry also missed the cut but Laurie Canter is safely though to the weekend action.