A FINAL-HOLE bogey cost David Howell an under-par first round at the Scottish Open on Thursday as he shot a level 71.

Swindon star Howell was two-under through eight holes at The Renaissance Club in North Berwick before dropping a shot on the last hole of his front nine.

Howell remained at one-under throughout his back nine, only to record a bogey at his last hole before returning to the clubhouse to drop back to level par.

That leaves the 43-year-old old outside the top 100 on the leaderboard and eight shots off the lead, currently held by four players at eight-under.

Howell's fellow Wiltshire golfer Jordan Smith was also left to rue a last-hole bogey after he opened up with a one-under round.

Derry Hill's Smith had been two-under teeing off on his last hole, only to drop a shot a sign for an opening 70.

At the top of the leaderboard, American Matt Kuchar, France’s Romain Wattel and Italian pair Nino Bertasio and Edoardo Molinari are setting the pace after the quartet all shot superb rounds of 63.

Teeing off at the 10th hole, Howell got off his first round under way nicely as back-to-back pars to start was followed by a first birdie of the day.

A run of four pars in a row followed before the Broome Manor man claimed another birdie at the short 17th hole – his eighth – to move to two-under.

A shot was surrendered immediately after that, though, as Howell recorded a first bogey of the day to reach the turn at one-under.

Howell’s back nine was solid if unspectacular as he posted eight pars in a row on his scorecard.

Another at his final hole would see him end the day under-par, however, Howell posted a disappointing bogey to sign for a 71 and drop back to even for the tournament.

The two-time Ryder Cup winner will need to improve in Friday’s second round in order to make the cut.

Howell tees off at 8am BST on Friday alongside Portugal’s Pedro Figueiredo and Finnish player Tapio Pulkkanen.