DAVID Howell recorded a steady start to the Qatar Masters in Doha as he hit a three-under-par round of 69 on his return from injury.

The 42-year-old has been side lined with a shoulder and back injury, before returning to action this week.

However, the Swindon player showed no signs of rust as he opened up with a birdie four on the opening hole, before securing back-to-back level-pars.

His round hit a snag early on with a pair of bogey fives on the fourth and six, leaving him one-over after seven holes.

Birdies on the par-three eighth and par-five ninth saw the two-time Ryder Cup winner push his score in the right direction.

A superbly consistent back nine saw him hit six consecutive level-pars, before birdies on the 16th and 18th, leaving him three-under for the day.

Derry Hill’s Jordan Smith was also in action and fared slightly better with his scorecard reading four-under-par following his opening round.

Starting on the 10th, the 25-year-old hit birdies on the par-five 10th, par-four 12th as well as the par-five 18th.

His only blip from his front-nine came on the 17th hole, where he added a stroke to his tally for a bogey-four.

On his final nine it was a similar story. Three birdies and one bogey as he navigated his way through the course.

Smith hit a birdie four on the first hole, in addition to birdies on the seventh and eighth in Qatar, where his second bogey of the day came on the par-three third.

Laurie Canter, from the Cumberwell Park club near Bradford on Avon, hit a two-over-par 74.