There is no questioning Michael Hoey’s determination to get back full-time to the European Tour after a gutsy 68 on day one of the Betfred British Masters at Hillside.
Hoey was five-under par playing the last when he dropped his first shot of the round in overcast and very cold conditions on the long-time Open Championship Final Qualifying venue.
The Northern Irish golfer heads into day two still very well-placed, however as he trails just five shots behind England’s Matthew Jordan who matched his age of 23 with just 23 putts in a new course record of nine-under par 63.
Jordan is attached the Royal Liverpool club where Rory McIlroy captured the 2014 Open, and there’s no prize for guessing Jordan’s favourite football team.
“Yeah, I didn’t expect Liverpool to win the way they did the other night. I just watched it again, and that takes your mind off golf.
“Everyone is talking about the game instead of the golf”.
Hoey birdied the second, fifth and seventh holes and then the 13th and 17th to be inside the top-10 and said; “It was good day’s golf, while I just put a poor swing on my second shot at the last in taking bogey but overall it was pretty solid.”
“I was leading the Challenge Tour event in Spain last week shooting five-under but just didn’t quite finish it off but the game has been good this year.
“So, I’ve come here to Hilliside, and it’s the first time I’ve played either here or next door at Royal Birkdale, feeling confident and that was again reflected out there today.”
While looking to make every post a winner, the now 40-year old Hoey remains fully focussed on returning to the main European Tour where he’s won five times between 2009 and 2013.
He lost his full Tour card at the end of 2016 and failed to regain it a year later while last year he contested just three of 26 events on the main tour and the remainder on the secondary Challenge Tour.
This year he arrived at Hillside having played in eight events with six of them due to his category, on the main Tour.
Hoey made that a lucky seventh this week in qualifying as the sixth last player into the €3.42m event.
“No, there’s no questioning my determination as that continues to be my main goal, to get back onto the main Tour,” he said.
“I know when I figure out my swing, I will get results and in saying that, it’s only taken me 40-years to figure it out (smiling) so it’s good.
“I do enjoy my golf so much and my body is still in good shape for a now 40-year old.
“I feel I have been quite lucky of late injury-wise as I do also spend a lot of time in the gym while I have to give my caddy Chris (Selfridge) credit. He played on the Challenge Tour full-time just a couple of years ago so he’s helped a lot.”
Former British Masters winner Paul Dunne signed for a 71 to be inside the top 50, while Mount Juliet’s Gavin Moynihan carded a +3 round of 75 and is T126.