Open 2014: David Howell wants strong finish at Open

By Phil CartwrightBBC Sport at Hoylake
David Howell
Howell, who is playing in his first Open for five years, had the honour of hitting the opening shot
The Open Championship 2014
Venue: Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake Date: 17-20 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Sport website, mobile & app, and Connected TVs

David Howell hopes to put himself into contention for a first major title on Sunday after shooting a two-under 70 in the second round of The Open at Royal Liverpool.

Swindon's Howell, who now lives in Surrey, birdied his final three holes to lie two under at the halfway mark.

"To do well at The Open or eventually win it, I'm going to have to play my best golf," said the 39-year-old.

"That's the challenge over the weekend."

Playing in his first Open since 2009, Howell had the honour of hitting the first shot of the 2014 event on Thursday and carded a level-par 72.

He was two-over after 11 holes of his second round on Friday, but birdied four of his last seven to guarantee he would remain at Hoylake for the weekend.

Howell's previous best performance at an Open Championship was back in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, where he finished seventh.

Since then he has struggled to reproduce the form that saw him break into the world's top 10, but he believes it is returning.

"I haven't had the best of years so far but things have been picking up with my game, if not results wise, in the last month," added the former European Ryder Cup player.

"I've felt that in the last two weeks I could have had a biggish result and it's not quite happened. Hopefully I've kept that in hand for this week.

"I'm going to have to continue to hit the ball as well as I have done and keep putting well."

Howell's perfect back nine
Howell did not drop a shot on the back nine in either of his first two rounds at Hoylake. He parred the final nine holes on Thursday and came back in a four-under 33 for the same stretch on Friday.

Another Englishman to make the cut was Bristol's Chris Wood, who recovered from what he described as a "frustrating" first-round 75 to shoot 70 on day two and lie one over.

Wood, who finished positively with birdies at the 16th and 18th - both par-fives - admitted that his mental strength and solid putting had seen him through to the weekend.

"I didn't hit the ball an awful lot better today," the 26-year-old told BBC Sport.

"Yesterday I played one destructive shot on the 10th that went out of bounds and cost me a seven, and then I lost all my confidence on the back nine.

"There wasn't a lot of difference between yesterday and today - just that one destructive shot yesterday."

Asked about his hopes for the final two rounds, he added: "One over is not far off it, but there's a lot of work to do."