Saturday, 05 September 2009

England's David Howell, whose form has suffered amid a series of injuries after winning Ryder Cup caps in 2004 and 2006, was back in the limelight when the third round of the Omega European Masters began in Switzerland.

The 34 year old former World Number Nine, who now stands 316th, birdied the first three holes and went into a tie for fourth place only two strokes off the lead.

Howell is outside top 200 on The Race to Dubai this season and has made only one halfway cut in his last nine events - at The Open Championship in July.

Also up to eight under par in this the first qualifying event for next year's Ryder Cup were compatriot Benn Barham, Spain's Ignacio Garrido, a member of the 1997 side at Valderrama, and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel.

The lead was held by another South African, Thomas Aiken, after opening rounds of 68 and 64, but only by one from Welshman Bradley Dredge, the 2006 champion, and twice runner-up Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Rory McIlroy, who lost a play-off a year ago after missing an 18 inch putt, had eight shots to make up after bogeying the second and fourth. He did make birdie three holes later, however.

For the third day running the 20 year old was partnering Lee Westwood. They are third and fourth on The Race to Dubai standings and McIlroy has the chance to go top by winning here.

Westwood remained on the fringe of contention at six under. A birdie on the long first was followed by a bogey at the fourth, but he then picked up further strokes on the sixth and seventh.

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