(Reuters) - Michael Hoey made the best use of tranquil conditions at the Black Mountain Golf Club to post a course record eight-under-par 64 and lead the Thailand Classic by a stroke after the opening round on Thursday.
The Northern Irishman’s blemish-free round, studded with eight birdies, kept him ahead of Spaniard Carlos Pigem, Taiwan’s Chien-yao Hung and American David Lipsky in the $2 million tournament, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours.
“We had 10 or 11 holes with not much wind, which was an advantage teeing off early,” five-time European Tour winner Hoey said.
”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 in two. It has been a long time since I had a bogey-free card.
“To be bogey-free and have no fives on the card -- and a course record -- is a nice start. I‘m swinging the club well so hopefully I can put three more good rounds together and see what happens.”
India’s Shiv Kapur gave himself a nice birthday present with a bogey-free round of 66 to sit alone in fifth spot, two strokes behind the leader.
“It’s a nice present. You wake up in the morning hoping for a good day because you don’t want to be grumpy for the rest of the day,” said Kapur, who turned 33 on Thursday. “I couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
A stroke further adrift were eight players including local hope Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who holed his approach shot on the ninth for an eagle.
The big-hitting Kiradech scorched the course but his round was spoiled after he found water and a bunker down the 18th for a double bogey.
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Justin Palmer