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Michael Hoey is off to flying start at Dunhill Links with birdie blitz

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Michael Hoey lies one shot off the lead. Credit: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Michael Hoey lies one shot off the lead. Credit: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Getty Images

Michael Hoey lies one shot off the lead. Credit: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

There’s something about the Dunhill Links Championship that brings out the best in Michael Hoey, as he proved on day one in Scotland.

A former champion at this event in 2011, the 42-year-old is right in the mix again after day one, just one shot off the lead after he shot a bogey-free seven-under 65 at Kingsbarns.

Opting to play in this event instead of on the Challenge Tour, where he is in the thick of the hunt for a European Tour card for next season, Hoey’s decision already looks justified as he continued his recent momentum with five birdies and an eagle in his opening round.

The tournament is played as a pro-am across three courses — the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns — with Nicolas Colsaerts, Adri Arnaus (both St Andrews), Tyrrell Hatton (Carnoustie) and Haotong Li (Kingsbarns) all carding eight-under opening rounds.

Jonathan Caldwell will be disappointed with a level-par 72 at St Andrew’s, while Cormac Sharvin opened with a three-over 75 at Kingsbarns.

Hoey and Sharvin both play their second rounds at St Andrews today, while Caldwell is at Carnoustie.

On the LPGA Tour, Leona Maguire returns to action for the first time since her Solheim Cup exploits today, teeing it up at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in Galloway, New Jersey — where Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow is also competing — and she’s keen on a strong finish to the year.

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“If the season ended today I would be still incredibly happy. I couldn’t have asked for a better season. Still my rookie year technically,” said the Cavan woman, who is 13th in the Race to CME Globe standings.

“We’ve got five events left, so I’ll try and put myself in contention in as many of them as I possibly can. It would be sort of a cherry on top to finish off the year with a win.

“If I do, great. If not, I’ll take all the experiences from this year and bring them into next year.

“I’ve never been one to worry about rankings or any of that stuff. I’ll just keep sort of playing my golf, trying to do as well as I possibly can, and let Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year and all that look after itself.”

Meanwhile, Rockmount are through to today’s All-Ireland Mixed Foursomes semi-finals after they defeated Castle at Strandhill in the last-eight yesterday, setting up a tie with Royal Tara, who defeated Letterkenny in the quarter-finals.


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