Michael Hoey’s Open hopes were dashed by poor driving. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ieAlan Dunbar and Michael Hoey were driven to distraction in the first round of The Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Amateur champion Dunbar paid a high price for some wayward driving as he racked up two sevens - the first a triple the second a double - in a five over 75 while Hoey hit just five fairways and made his lone birdie of the day at the 18th for a nightmarish 79.

Dunbar, 22, must make the cut to have any chance of beating lone rival Manuel Trappel to the Silver Medal but while he believes he’s hitting enough good shots to turn it around, Hoey confessed that his Open is over unless he can shoot a miraculous 62 or 63.

Playing in his last start before next month’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, the Belfast man is desperately searching for confidence after a round featuring six bogeys and two double bogeys before he rapped in a 10 footer at the last.

“You can’t hit the ball sideways and get round here,” said Hoey, who pulled his tee shot at the par-three first and bogeyed. “ I have been struggling with my swing for a long time.”

One over after five, Hoey double bogeyed the sixth, then bogeyed the eighth, 10th and 11th before taking six at the par-four 14th to go eight over.

He dropped two more shots at the 16th and 17th but avoided an 80 when he drilled a driver downt he 18th and flicked a sand wedge to 10 feet and holed the putt.

“I was nervous at the start and that’s a good thing because it means you are excited. Then I turned it over right to left on the first.

“I was going well and had a couple of chances, I was only one over and then I hit a big hooky pull on the sixth and that was it.

“I just want to make some good swings tomorrow that’s all.  I don’t care what I shoot, I just want to hit a few fairways and try to take that with me in a couple’ weeks time.  You have to hit fairways out there, as well.  There’s deep rough. 

“You can’t play major tournaments with deep bunkers if you’re not in control.  It’s not being negative, but if you’re not in control you’re almost wasting your time.”

“I’ll just try to enjoy it tomorrow.  Obviously the tournament is over for me, really, unless I shoot seven or eight under. The cut is probably going to be two under or something anyway, so you’re talking eight under.  So I’ve got zero pressure, obviously.

“Akron is coming up and I need to find a swing.

Dunbar parred his first five holes alongside Adam Scott (64) and Matt Kuchar (69) but triple bogeyed the tough sixth.

“I made a terrible swing off the tee and got a lucky break in the rough and hit it in the fairway bunker and probably hit too much club with the second shot,” the Rathmore man said. “It plugged and I had a swipe at it and left it in there. After starting so well, to get a kick in the teeth like that didn’t help my confidence.”

Birdies at the eighth and ninth helped him steady the ship but he made a double bogey seven at the 11th when he lost a ball off the tee and then doubled the 15th when he thinned his third from a bad lie in greenside rough across the green into sand and was forced to aim away from the pin.

“Today I just had no control off the tee really,” Dunbar added. “Adam was more aggressive that I was off the tee and hit a couple of drivers when I was hitting three or five woods.

“Maybe I was a bit defensive but I had no confidence off the tee at all and struggled. To get round in five over with a triple and two doubles, I don’t know how I managed it.

“I was obviously nervous on the first tee but I hit a great shot up and a made a good start.  I was hitting the ball well until that bad swing off six.

“I got back to one over and made a great par save after driving in the bunker on 10, so I am disappointed.

“I need to shoot a good score tomorrow but I am hitting enough good shots and my short game is good and I am putting well. There is no reason why I can’t shoot a good score tomorrow.
“It’s so demanding off the tee here and if you have no confidence off the tee here you are going to hit bad shots and make doubles.

“When I got the ball in play I was hitting good shots and giving myself chances for birdies and taking a few of them, hitting good shots. I will go to the range and work on my driving and see if it is better for tomorrow.”