AN EARLY triple bogey denied David Howell an under-par start at the Irish Open today as he began the tournament with a one-over first round of 73.

The Swindon star took a seven at the par-four second hole at Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal and was always playing catch-up from there.

Howell heads into today's second round six shots off the early lead held by New Zealander Ryan Fox after a five-under first round of 67.

Broome Manor man Howell actually responded well to his nightmare opening, and swiftly clawed two shots back with birdies at the fourth and sixth holes.

However, a bogey followed at the ninth to see the 43-year-old reach the turn at two-over par.

After a par-par start to the back nine, Howell was drifting further down the leaderboard after another bogey at hole 12.

A third birdie of the day immediately after that at the 13th got him moving back in the right direction once again, and there was further good news for the two-time Ryder Cup winner before his round was over.

Another birdie at number 16 saw Howell back to one-over, and that was how he remained over the final two holes to finish the first round with a 73 and just inside the top 70 on the leaderboard.

Fellow Wiltshire players Jordan Smith and Laurie Canter endured disappointing first days too, with one-over and three-over par rounds respectively.

Canter, who plays out of Cumberwell Park in Bradford on Avon, had looked likely to finish his first round in red figures when one-under with three holes to play, but a quadruple bogey eight at the 16th hole scuppered those chances.