DAVID Howell made a steady start on his return to European Tour golf in South Africa today, while fellow Wiltshire players Laurie Canter and Steve Surry were left with work to do after the opening day of the Joburg Open.

Swindon’s two-time Ryder Cup star Howell carded a level-par 71 on the Bushwillow Course, one of two being used for this week’s event at Johannesburg’s Randpark Golf Club, which is tri-sanctioned between the European, Sunshine and Asian tours.

Howell, who began his 2018 European Tour campaign by missing the cut in Hong Kong two weeks ago, birdied the short sixth but dropped a shot on the ninth hole.

Another shot went at the 16th, but the 42-year-old ended his day well with a birdie at the final hole.

Two shots further back were Surry and Canter, from the Cumberwell Park club in Bradford on Avon, although Surry recovered well after a double-bogey at his opening holes, posting birdies at both the par-five fourth and 12.

Canter meanwhile, double-bogeyed the fifth and 16th holes, but repaired some of the damage with birdies at the 11th and 14th.

The players will swap courses tomorrow, South Africa’s Keenan Davidse, taking the early lead after an eight-under-par 63 at Bushwillow.