The Peebles player was out in one of the last groups of the day and reckoned it took two hours and two minutes to play just seven holes on a fast-running course at Muthaiga Golf Club.
That meant it was almost dark when he finished birdie-birdie for a three-under-par 68, which left him in a tie for 20th after American John Catlin and South African Dylan Mostert carded matching 64s.
“I had around a six-footer on the last and I honestly had no idea what the break was. I just hit it straight and hoped it was going to go in and, thankfully, it did,” said Howie.
“Honestly, after taking two hours and 20 minutes to play seven holes, I kind of feared the worst. I thought there was no chance of getting finished - but I managed to run round the last few holes, which was a relief as it gives me an extra couple of hours in bed.”
Howie’s effort left him sitting two shots ahead of compatriots Ewen Ferguson, Connor Syme, Richie Ramsay and Grant Forrest, with Bob MacIntyre, Calum Hill and Sandy Scott all a further shot back.
I’m quite optimistic where the game is and it was nice to keep that going today," said Howie, who has made a strong start to the new Challenge Tour season after losing his main tour card at the end of last year. “I played really well actually as it was tough and tricky.”
Elsewhere, Michele Thomson jumped into a tie for 12th at the halfway stage in the Investec South African Women’s Open on the back of a five-under 65 at Steenberg GC in Capetown.
As AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai stormed four shots clear of the field after adding a 65 to her opening 64, Laura Beveridge also sits in the top 20 and both Kylie Henry and Jane Turner progressed to the final two rounds as well.
In his first start on the Asian Tour since securing a card at the Qualifying School in January, David Drysdale opened with a one-under-par 71 at Black Mountain to sit seven shots off the lead in the International Series Thailand tournament.