Michael Hoey makes solid start with flawless round in Germany

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey

Confident Michael Hoey carded an opening round 66 to trail leaders Danny Willett and Rafa Cabrera-Bello at the BMW International Open in Germany on Thursday.

Hoey, who grabbed a top 10 finish at the Irish Open last weekend in Cork, produced a flawless round that included six birdies and no dropped shots.

The 35-year-old is in a share of third place two shots behind the leaders who both opened their accounts with 64s.

“It was good. It was one of those days when I rolled a few nice ones in,” said Willett, who did not play in Wednesday’s pro-am because of a stiff neck.

“There was a score out there and we both took it.

“You can turn average rounds into good rounds when you hole a few putts and that is what I seemed to be doing.”

A total of 83 players finished the day under par, including home favourite Martin Kaymer on his first appearance since winning the US Open a fortnight ago.

However, he is way back in a share of 65th after a one-under 71 which failed to really give the crowd much to cheer.

Starting at the 10th birdies in two holes were quickly undone by a double bogey at the short 16th and another dropped shot at the 18th took him to the turn in one over.

Three successive birdies immediately got him back to two under but having hit his second into a greenside bunker at the 577-yard seventh he failed to get out of the trap from an awkward lie and bogeyed.

“It was a tough day for me on the greens,” said Kaymer.

“Those greens look good but they are very tough to putt on.”

Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who started on the back nine, looked set for a low score after reaching the turn on five under but eight pars - interrupted by a dropped shot at the eighth - meant he finished the day four shots off the lead.

Countryman Henrik Stenson was alongside him after he battled pollen that caused him, and most obviously playing partner Victor Dubuisson, to be overcome by sneezing spells.

Dubuisson was hardest hit on the 12th hole after he lost his ball in the long grass down the left of the fairway.

The Frenchman was so overcome that when he took the ball away for relief near the ninth tee his caddy had to ask Stenson and Bernd Wiesberger to putt out as he recovered. Dubuisson finished his round on one under.

Shane Lowry shook off the disappointment of a missed cut at the Irish Open to start his challenge with a five under par 67. Gareth Maybin’s one under 71, left him tied for 65th.

Over in America, Tiger Woods’ return to action after back surgery did not go exactly to plan as the world number five could manage only a three-over-par 74 in the opening round of the Quicken Loans National at Bethesda.

The 14-time major winner, playing his first event since undergoing a microdiscectomy in late March, struggled from the off and only a late flourish pulled things back.

However, he was still seven shots off the early lead set by Ricky Barnes.