Michael Hoey’s one under par opening round of 70 at the NI Open may at first glance appear less than spectacular but it actually represented his joint best effort at the event.
The tournament ambassador trails the round one leaders by five shots but, he was reasonably upbeat about his chances of breaking his duck and finally making it through to the weekend at Galgorm Castle.
“I hit it much better than I scored but I didn’t hole enough putts really,” said Michael.
“There wasn’t much wind but I didn’t judge the wind well. I came up short a couple of times with poor clubbing.
“I’m staying positive. The greens were a little bit chewed up this afternoon. They’re wet and they had a lot of traffic but they should be good in the morning and hopefully I can hole a couple of putts.”
There is a six-way tie at the top of the leaderboard with 2013 champion, Daan Huizing, joined by John Hahn, Haydn Porteous, Niall Turner and Emilio Cuartero Blanco who all carded six under par rounds of 65 in perfect scoring conditions.
Amongst the morning starters to profit were Ulster duo Chris Selfridge (-3) and Reeve Whitson (-2).
“I’m happy enough considering how I felt this morning. If you had offered that to me this morning I would have quickly taken it and gone back to bed,” said Chris who is struggling to shake off a virus.
“Preparation has been horrible, I’ve been in bed. I felt alright yesterday but not great this morning so I’m very happy with the outcome.
“I was very excited about getting to play in this event. There is a great buzz about the place and the course is in great shape.”
Whitson reached four under at one stage before two late dropped shots saw him slip back into a tie for 38th alongside Ireland Simon Ward and Niall Kearney.
“I have been struggling most of the year but over the last three weeks I have started to feel like things were starting to come together,” said the 23-year-old.
“I played well in Poland last week and played better than I scored today, I really could have got it going.”