DAVID Howell was forced to withdraw from the Nordea Masters after suffering a back injury during his opening round.

The 41-year-old went into the tournament in Sweden after recording his best finish of the year at last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he claimed 48th place.

Howell teed off early this morning and made a steady start in his front nine, with a bogey four on the eighth the only blemish on his scorecard.

However it went downhill fast for the Brome Manor pro as he kicked off his back nine with a bogey five on the tenth.

The Swindon star was able to regain some ground with a birdie three and a birdie four on the 11th and 12th.

His recovery was brief as he recorded bogeys on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th before calling it a day with a hole left to play with a score of four over-par.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner was frustrated to pull out of the tournament and said the injury had come out of the blue.

“The back has just given way and it hasn’t liked what I was doing on my swing over the last day,” said Howell, who has a history of back problems.

“I couldn’t move at the end of it so had to hobble in. I was feeling fine before I went over, I was more concerned about my wrist than my back.

“It’s very frustrating and it just came on as the round progressed. I got my physio out to have a look because I was starting to feel crappy.

“I probably hit two shots more than I should have done. I hit one off the tee on the 18th, hacked it out of the trees and then I didn’t even fancy swinging with a wedge at 100 yards in the end.

“It was no good at all and it is a bit of a nightmare.”

Wiltshire’s Jordan Smith and Laurie Canter were also in action in Sweden, with Derry Hill ace Smith shooting a two over-par 75 after a hit and miss opening 18 holes.

Canter, from the Cumberwell Park club near Bradford on Avon, was slightly better off, as he finished one over-par after his first round heading into day two.