DAVID Howell recovered from a poor start but still left himself with work to do to make the cut at the Nordea Masters in Sweden yesterday.

Howell, marking his return to tour action after four weeks, carded a one-over-par 71 at the Hills Golf Club in Gothenburg and realistically needing a sub-par Friday 18 holes to ensure he could play on into the weekend.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner’s day got off to an awful start as he was left three over par just five holes into his opening round, bogeys coming at the 11th, 12th and 14th after he started his round on the 10th.

The repair job started on the 18th - his ninth - with his opening birdie of the day and Howell clawed a further shot back with a birdie at the fourth.

A fourth bogey of the round came at the long par five eighth, but Howell ended his round on a high by birdieing the ninth.

Fellow Wiltshire player Laurie Canter fared two shots better than Howell after an opening 69.

Also starting on the 10th, the Cumberwell Park player bogeyed the 11th but back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th got him into red figures.

Canter then birdied the long par-five third but dropped a shot on the eight, his penultimate hole.

The lead was held by France’s Clement Sordet, who shot an eight-under-par 62, two shots clear of Scott Jamieson, who shared second place with England’s Lee Slattery, with Sweden’s Christofer Blomstrand one of four players a shot further back.

Pre-tournament favourite Thorbjorn Olesen, who is seeking a second win of the season to move into the automatic Ryder Cup qualifying places, birdied his last two holes to card a two-under-par 68, while former world number one Martin Kaymer, of Germany, is three shots off the pace after a 67.