Hoey on fire in Morocco

Michael Hoey blasted an eagle and three birdies to lurk just two shots behind leader Greig Hutcheon in the Banque Populaire Moroccan Classic.

The Ulsterman's five under par 67 left him in a five-man logjam for second place with Colm Moriarty the next best of the Irish after a two under par 70.

Michael Hoey

Stephen Browne is tied for 30th after carding five birdies in a one-under par 71 but Cork's Peter O'Keeffe crashed to a seven-over par 79 on the 2008 Challenge Tour debut.

Scot Hutcheon showed no signs of the serious shoulder injury which has hampered his recent career when he shot a seven under par 65 to take the lead.

The man from Aberdeen, who can no longer sleep on his right hand side after injuring his shoulder in a snowball fight in December 2004, leads a quintet of challengers by two shots after carding eight birdies and a solitary bogey at El Jadida Sofitel Golf Resort in Morocco.

Tthe winner of last year’s Tartan Tour in Scotland, Hutcheon is seeking his second Challenge Tour victory on Moroccan soil after his win in the Banque Commercial du Maroc in 2003.

He said: "The course is in fantastic condition, and the sun shines here a bit more than it does in Aberdeen! I plodded my way round without playing brilliantly today, but I’m enjoying my golf a lot more now. The injury focused my mind and taught me not to take anything for granted, because I’m in a privileged position."

Hoey and Matthew Zions both eagled the 11th to Holland’s Wil Besseling, winner of the II Club Colombia Masters last month and the English duo of Matthew Cort and Adam Gee in second place.

Leading scores:
65 G Hutcheon (Sco)
67 M Hoey (NIR); M Cort (Eng); M Zions (Aus); A Gee (Eng); W Besseling (Ned)
68 B Evans (Eng); M Haastrup (Den)
69 N Vanhootegem (Bel); A Hogberg (Swe); J Axgren (Swe); J Clément (Sui); R Guillard (Fra); A Bossert (Sui); J Morgan (Eng);
70 N Colsaerts (Bel); C Moriarty (Ire); P Kaensche (Nor); J Hepworth (Eng); C Moriarty (Irl); A Bernadet (Fra); R Ramsay (Sco); M Crespi (Ita), S Reale (Ita); P Gasnier (Bra).