Ulster trio struggle on both sides of Atlantic
Northern Ireland golfers were well below par yesterday as they found the going tough in two tournaments.
Graeme McDowell finished well off the pace at the Fed Ex St Jude Classic in Memphis while Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin both face a battle to make the cut at the Lyoness Open in Austria.
Portrush man McDowell carded a 76 in his first round, well adrift of early joint leaders American Brooks Koepka and England's Greg Owen who shot 64.
Galgorm Castle touring professional Hoey is sharing 73rd spot in Austria, eight shots behind leader Gregory Bourdy after firing an opening one-over 73.
Ballyclare man Maybin's 76 left him tied for 124th spot in Atzenbrugg. Peter Lawrie is the leading Irishman on four under while Simon Thornton shot a steady opening 70.
Frenchman Bourdy's precise iron play saw him take a two-shot lead. The 33-year-old missed just one green in regulation in a seven-under 65 as he became the first player of the day to come in bogey-free at the Diamond Club.
Breezy conditions and a course playing hard and fast caused others some difficulties but not Bourdy, who made three birdies in his first four holes and had caught the clubhouse leaders by the time he picked up his fifth stroke at the 370-yard 13th.
"I am pleased with seven under, of course, but it actually could have been even more," said Bourdy, who has had three top-10s this year but none since mid-March.
He led by two from the English duo of Robert Dinwiddie and Chris Wood, Spain's Carlos del Moral and German Max Kieffer.
Dinwiddie, who missed the second half of last season with a ruptured disc in his back, carded his best round in almost two years.
He had missed nine successive cuts on his return until last week's Nordea Masters but finally found his form with an eagle at the opening par five setting him on his way.
"It's the longest I've ever had away from golf," the 32-year-old Londoner said in relation to his injury. "I didn't realise how long it might take me to get my game back but I feel I am getting closer and this round showed that a bit."