(Reuters) – England’s David Howell signalled the end of a three-month loss of form when he closed with an eagle three to take a share of the early first round lead in his defence of the BMW International Open at Golfclub München-Nord, Eichenried.
The European Tour Order of Merit leader's five-under-par 67 took him alongside tournament outsider Martin Erlandsson of Sweden to hold a one shot advantage over the field.
Howell at last had some form to show Europe's Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam, with whom he played.
Another of Woosnam's certainties for the match against the United States next month, fellow Englishman Luke Donald, also performed well in front of the skipper for The K Club. Donald's 68 left him sharing third place with Portuguese José-Filipe Lima and gallery favourite Marcel Siem of Germany.
Woosnam did not fare as well as his team members, struggling to a 76. On Sunday, the Welshman names his two wild cards. He has refused to talk further about his possible picks until his wild card news conference.
Donald and Howell do not have any wild-card worries. They are hoping to get a practice round at the Irish Ryder Cup venue before the match and Howell now hopes he has shed his worries about losing form suddenly after taking his second title of the year, the BMW Championship at Wentworth in May.
At the start of the season he had overcome Tiger Woods to win the Champions Tournament in China. "I can't even remember the last time I had an eagle," Howell said after sinking the eight-footer at his last hole.
"Hopefully that is going to be the turning point now. The poor run I've had came as a bit of a shock because it had been two or three months plain sailing up to then.
"I've just worked hard and hoped I could start rolling in the putts again, sure I would turn things around eventually.
"Obviously with the big one (Ryder Cup) not far away, I'm delighted with today." Because of his slump, Howell has nearly been caught on Europe's money-list and looks for his third win of the season to draw away again.
Donald has been encouraged by his last two results of tied third in the US PGA Championship and tied eighth in last week's WGC - Bridgestone Invitational, which ensured his automatic place for The K Club after needing a Ryder Cup wild card when he made his debut in 2004.
"The last two weeks have been very positive for me because I came here knowing I didn't have to sweat about my place," he said.