01/25/2013 02:59 EST | Updated 03/27/2013 05:12 EDT

World champ Glenn Howard rebounds at National with two straight victories

PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. - Glenn Howard is back in contention at the National.

The world champion evened his record at 2-2 at the third stop on the Grand Slam of Curling tour with a 9-4 win over Greg Balsdon in Draw 7 action Friday.

The skip from Coldwater, Ont., took the lead in the fifth end, laying three to go up 5-3. After Toronto's Balsdon got one back in the sixth, Howard scored four in the seventh to earn the win.

Howard's rink looks like it has found its stride after losing its first two games of the tournament. Any win going forward will be crucial in Howard's battle with Edmonton's Kevin Koe for the overall Grand Slam title.

Rogers Sportsnet offered a $1-million bonus this season for any team that managed to win all four events of the Grand Slam but when Koe won the first and Howard the second, that bonus, to be split between the top three teams, dropped to $100,000.

If either Howard or Koe wins the National, it would help cement their claim to first-place Grand Slam bonus money of $50,000, with the only potential threat coming from the other at the Players' Championship, the final Grand Slam event of the season.

Koe leads his group with a 3-0 record, and was scheduled for action later Friday in Draw 8.

In other Draw 7 results, Rob Fowler of Brandon, Man., remained undefeated with a 7-4 win over Sweden's Sven Michel. Fowler leads Pool A at 4-0.

Saskatoon's Steve Laycock improved to 2-2 with a 6-3 win over Thomas Ulsrud. The Norwegian Olympian fell to 1-3.

Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton also evened his record at 2-2 with 5-2 win over Switzerland's Peter de Cruz. Jim Cotter of Kelowna, B.C., also evened his record through four games with a 7-2 rout of Toronto's Mark Kean.