Hoey nine shots off pace in South Africa

Michael Hoey
Michael Hoey

An opening round of 71 saw Michael Hoey finish nine shots off the lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Championships at Leopard Creek, Malelane, in South Africa.

Two birdies on the front on his outward nine and two on his inward nine, were the highlights of Hoey’s round however his card was blemished by a triple bogey six at the par-three 16th.

Peter Lawrie is best placed of the Irish contingent on four under, with Damien McGrane one under and Kevin Phelan level par.

South African Brendan Grace posted a 10-under-par 62 which gave him a three-shot lead over countryman Jake Roos, with 36-year-old English European Tour rookie Matt Ford a further shot back.

Grace, who won four European tour events in 2012, was in sparkling form at the Kruger National Park venue.

“I hit the ball superbly from the start to the finish,” Grace said.

“I can’t remember the last time I hit 18 greens in a row, which is pretty nice, especially around this place where there are some daunting approaches.

“It’s a good feeling going into the rest of the tournament,” he added.

Three-time Alfred Dunhill Championship winner Charl Schwartzel shot a 69, which was the same score as his fellow South African and major winner Louis Oosthuizen.