Hoey happy with China start

Michael Hoey failed to build on a fast start but was still pleased with a three under 69 in the Volvo China Open. Picture: David Lloyd / www.golffile.ie

Michael Hoey struggled a little on the tougher back nine but still declared himself happy to be just two strokes off the clubhouse leader in the weather delayed Volvo China Open.

The Belfast star got off to a flying start with a five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine. But while he dropped two strokes coming home, he was still pleased with his day.

"I think the back nine would be a lot harder than the front," Hoey told European Tour Radio. "There is a lot of water in play and you have to drive the ball well. You can make double bogey easiy if you miss a fairway really. You can make birdies too on those par-fives — 17 and 14 — so there are a few chances. But it is tough.

"The greens are very good, a very good surface, and I putted really well on the front nine. I had an easy up and down to get to six under on the ninth, which I didn't do. That was disappointing. Then I fell away a bit but it is still a good round.

"I holed a good putt on the second — they were all good putts. Even though I finishe poorly, I am still three under and a lot of guys would take that. It feels good so tomorrow morning, roll a few in, hopefully."

Alvaro Quiros and Simon Dyson shot five under par 67s at the Genzon Golf Club in Shenzhen to lead by a shot from a group of four that includes reigning champion Brett Rumford, who is looking to become the first man in the tournament’s 20-year history to successfully defend the title.

His playing partner Henrik Stenson, who can replace Tiger Woods as world No 1 with a win, battled a stomach virus to produce a one under 71.

"It suits a good driver of the ball," said Hoey, who birdied the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh before dropping shots at the 12th and 16th on the back nine to end  the day tied for ninth with the likes of Ian Poulter.

"If you drive it good and aren't too aggressive when you are out of position, you will be alright. It was quite hot and sticky, so I lost a little bit of concentration. But I can't expect to feel perfect in Asia.

"It probably doesn't suit me 100 percent, so I am trying just to do my best. I am just trying to save my energy. Last week was a hot week. I think it is more about concentration for me so (rather than working on my game now) I think I will be lazy and just rest."

Stenson had five birdies and four bogeys in his 71, explaining: Stenson: “The body doesn’t feel great, the stomach is upset. I’m not throwing up but I’m not too keen on eating and my energy levels aren’t the best, but once I got going I felt better than before I teed off and made it around and actually played alright.”

It was a mixed day for the rest of the Irish with Shane Lowry carding two birdies and two bogeys a level par 72 that left him tied for 56th. 

Damien McGrane is 73rd after a 73 but Gareth Maybin (77) and Peter Lawrie (78) are struggling to make the cut.

As for the leaders, Quiros and Dyson were clearly happy with their rounds.

“It was a good round of golf. It was a bit of a shame on the last par five because I was half a metre away from having a great chance to make another eagle but I ended up on the lip of the bunker and had to settle for a chip and two putts," said Quiros. "It was a good round. My game is improving - You can’t see it yet on the rankings but I have been playing better.”

Dyson said: “I have had a bit of success here and really enjoy playing in China. Obviously I have won this tournament before so that always gives you a good feeling and like I said, I just played nicely today so hopefully I can continue to do that over the next three days.”