Michael Hoey is chasing his sixth European Tour win and he's determined now to end what's been a frustrating run after opening with a course record 64 to claim the first round lead in theTrue Thailand Classic presented by Black Mountain.
The world No 227 fired eight birdies at Black Mountain Golf Club to hold a one-shot lead over leads by one stroke from American David Lipsky, who won last year’s Omega European Masters, and Asian Tour players Chien-yao Hung of Chinese Taipei and Spaniard Carlos Pigem on the eve of his 36th birthday.
A five-time European Tour winner and part of Great Britain & Ireland’s 2001 winning Walker Cup side, Hoey did not drop a shot all day as he moved into a commanding position and it was his consistency that pleased him as much as anything.
“We had ten or 11 holes with not much wind, which was an advantage teeing off early,” said Hoey. “I hit the ball well, and it suits me that there’s a bit of length off the tee; you can carry a few corners and reach the par fives.
“No bogeys, no fives on the card, and a course record is a nice start. I’m swinging the club nicely so hopefully I’ll put three more good rounds together and see what happens.
"It's been a long time since I was bogey free. I've been talking to my coaches about throwing in a lot of double bogeys, so to have no bogeys and keep a five off the card, and a a course record, is a nice start."
Hoey hasn't finished inside the top 30 since he tied for seventh behind Graeme McDowell in the Open de France in Paris last July and he admits that following a missed cut in Abu Dhabi with 50th place finishes in Qatar, Dubai and Malaysia over the last few weeks has been frustrating.
"I started to hit the ball well in the Middle East and didn't really see 50th, 50th and 50th the last three weeks," he said, clearly happy to get rewarded for is hard work.
"At least I was making cuts and making some money but I've just been throwing in some double bogeys and ruining my scorecards so hopefully today is the start of some more bogey free stuff."
Kapur celebrated his 33rd birthday with a 66 to sit two shots back in fifth place, while Spanish legend Miguel Angel Jiménez had an eagle two in his round of 67, holing out from the fairway with a seven iron. He is joined by seven other players on five under par at Black Mountain Golf Club, near the coastal town of Hua Hin.
Jiménez said: “The course is not particularly difficult from the tee because there’s not much rough, but you need to be very precise with your approach shots. The greens are big with a lot of movement and very fast.
"If you’re in the wrong place on the green you are finished. I’m feeling very sick. I have a cold and my sinuses hurt. Sometimes I hit a poor shot because I can hardly move the club. I started feeling ill yesterday. Hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow.”
Tournament ambassador Thongchai Jaidee and Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjørn both made solid starts with rounds of 69 while Damien McGrane posted a two over par 74.
First Round Scores
64 M Hoey (Nir),
65 D Lipsky (USA), C Pigem (Esp), H Chien-Yao (Tpe),
66 S Kapur (Ind),
67 P Marksaeng (Tha), R Paratore (Ita), P Junhasavasdikul (Tha), M Jiménez (Esp), A Noren (Swe), K Aphibarnrat (Tha), M Ford (Eng), S Hend (Aus),
68 J Wang (Kor), R Lee (Can), R Wannasrichan (Tha), M Kawamura (Jpn), P Peterson (USA), T Khrongpha (Tha),
69 L Weber (Fra), C Lloyd (Eng), A Otaegui (Esp), K Pratt (Aus), S Brazel (Aus), J Edfors (Swe), M Warren (Sco), P Uihlein (USA), B Rumford (Aus), J Carlsson (Swe), M Baldwin (Eng), T Lewis (Eng), T Bjørn (Den), S Rahman (Ban), T Pilkadaris (Aus), M Fraser (Aus), J Kruger (RSA), T Jaidee (Tha), A Lahiri (Ind), G Havret (Fra),
70 M Mamat (Sin), J Quesne (Fra), K Broberg (Swe), F Aguilar (Chi), R Wattel (Fra), K Oda (Jpn), S Jamieson (Sco), H Otto (RSA), S Lewton (Eng), E Grillo (Arg), P Maddy (Eng), A Pavan (Ita), M Perera (Sri), B Henson (USA), P Naewsuk (Tha),
71 A Da Silva (Bra), J Randhawa (Ind), N Holman (Aus), C Plaphol (Tha), F Zanotti (Par), C Nirat (Tha), B Easton (RSA), M Carlsson (Swe), G Charoenkul (Tha), M Crespi (Ita), D Chia (Mas), U Park (Aus), A Hansen (Den), R Green (Aus), P Tangkamolprasert (Tha), S Chawrasia (Ind), A Cañizares (Esp), J Parry (Eng), A Dodt (Aus),
72 M Lampert (Ger), J Barnes (Eng), L Wen-Chong (Chn), A Wall (Eng), S Supupramai (Tha), J Knutzon (USA), A Que (Phi), W Ormsby (Aus), L Wei-Chih (Tpe), S Kjeldsen (Den), A Vongvanij (Tha), N Tantipokhakul (Tha), R Karlberg (Swe), E De La Riva (Esp), R Cabrera-Bello (Esp), J Pagunsan (Phi),
73 S Barr (Aus), M Tullo (Chi), A Groom (Aus), J Campillo (Esp), T Chuayprakong (Tha), M Kieffer (Ger), J Lando Casanova (Fra), M Korhonen (Fin), N Fung (Mas), J Perttila (Fin), S Baek (Kor), J Singh (Ind), T Wiratchant (Tha), A Atwal (Ind) , M Both (Aus) , S Dyson (Eng) , K Richardson (Aus) , A Lascuna (Phi) , S Pongpaew (Tha) , P Supupramai (Tha) , I Buranatanyarat (Tha) , S Hutsby (Eng) , P Meesawat (Tha)
74 R Gangjee (Ind), S Kang (Kor), R Khan (Ind), O Farr (Wal), R Finch (Eng), S Prakongvech (Tha), C Phadungsil (Tha), J Colomo (Esp), J Higginbottom (Aus), G Bhullar (Ind), N Thippong (Tha), P Khongwatmai (Tha), M Foster (Eng), D McGrane (Irl),
75 P Sonthirati (Tha), P Pittayarat (Tha), P Saksansin (Tha), U Duangdecha (Tha), J Premsirigorn (Tha), M Tabuena (Phi), D Drysdale (Sco), K Tannin (Tha), S Kooratanapisan (Tha), P Swangarunporn (Tha),
76 A Johnston (Eng), J Janewattananond (Tha), C Doak (Sco),
77 M Nixon (Eng), P Rachataporn (Tha), M Lundberg (Swe), S Rattanakamphol (Tha), J Lagergren (Swe),
78 S Khan (Eng), R Rock (Eng),
79 T Poipong (Tha),
83 S Hansapiban (Tha),
84 P Pinprayong (Tha),
** P Waring (Eng).