Michael Hoey opened his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship bid with a four under 68 at Carnoustie. The 2011 champion, is tied for a 31st after a roller-coaster round that included an eagle, four bogeys and five birdies in a row at holes, three, four, five, six and seven. Hoey, who continues his quest today at Kingsbarns, trails a group of five players who lead the way on eight under par.
The English trio of Tom Lewis, Oliver Wilson and Richard McEvoy were joined at the top of the leaderboard by France’s Alex Kaleka and Chile’s Mark Tullo. Wilson, who has a brace of top five finishes to his name on the Challenge Tour this month, is slowly returning to the sort of form which earned him a place in Europe’s team at The Ryder Cup in 2008.
The following year, he came second in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – one of nine runner-up finishes on The European Tour – but has since struggled to maintain his momentum, losing his playing privileges in 2011 and subsequently dropping down to the Challenge Tour in a bid to rebuild his confidence.
But the 33 year old was back to his best at Kingsbarns, notching six birdies and an eagle three at the par five third hole to sign for his lowest round of the season.
Wilson said: “I’m playing a lot better. For the first time in probably over a year, I have some control over my shots and am able to trust my swing under pressure. I’m driving the ball way, way better, which is essentially the part of my game that had disappeared. I wasn’t able to get it on the fairway, so I was really in trouble. But hopefully that’s all behind me now.
Former Open champion, Darren Clarke opened his account with a three under 69, the same mark as Simon Thornton who began his campaign at Kingsbarns.
Gareth Maybin’s level par 72 at Kingsbarns leaves him way down the field in a tie for 106th place. Padraig Harrington, a two time winner of the tournament, struggled to a four over par 76.