European Tour

Hoey sizzles in Thailand

Michael Hoey (AFP)
Michael Hoey (AFP)

Prachuab Khiri Khan - Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey has stormed into the lead with a fiery eight-under-par 64 at the Thailand Classic in Hua Hin on Thursday, placing himself comfortably ahead of seasoned veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez and India's Anirban Lahiri.

The 35-year-old five time European Tour winner shot eight birdies and a bogey-free early morning first round that set a record for the Black Mountain course.

The show of force put him one shot ahead of Asian Tour Order of Merit champion David Lipsky, Taiwan's Hung Chien-yao and Spain's Carlos Pigem.

India's Shiv Kapur ended day one in fifth place with a tight 66 while eight players, including Spaniard Jimenez, were bunched together on 67.

Hoey said he felt the calm conditions during the early morning start helped him on his way in the $2 million tournament, the first one to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour in Thailand in eight years.

"We had 10 or 11 holes with not much wind, which was an advantage teeing off early," he said, according to a release put out by organisers.

"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," he added.

Korean-American Lipsky, who pipped Lahiri in Thailand in December to take the Order of Merit, bounced back from his disappointing tied 42nd at the Asian Tour season opener in Malaysia last week.

The Asian Tour number one for 2014 said he was confident he could pull himself back from that debacle on what he described as a challenging but enjoyable course.

"I've played here a couple of times and the course is in great shape right now. Scoring conditions are perfect but if you get to the wrong side of these pins, it's hard to make pars as you're looking at 20 footers," he said.

"Overall, it was pretty good today as I scored well considering how tricky it was to get to a lot of the locations," he added.

Lahiri, the highest ranked player at the tournament at 37 in the world, ended day one on 69 alongside Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, local hero Thongchai Jaidee and Johan Edfors, a Swede who spends his winters living at Black Mountain and knows the course well.

Leading scores after the first round of the $2 million Thailand Classic at the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin on Thursday:

64 - Michael Hoey (NIR)

65 - Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Carlos Pigem (ESP), David Lipsky (USA)

66 - Shiv Kapur (IND)

67 - Scott Hend (AUS), Matt Ford (ENG), Alex Noren (SWE), Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA), Renato Paratore (ITA), Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Prayad Marksaeng (THA)

68 - Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA), Paul Peterson (USA), Masahiro Kawamura (JPN), Jeunghun Wang (KOR), Richard T. Lee (CAN)

Selected scores:

69 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Anirban Lahiri (IND), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Johan Edfors (SWE)

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