Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey had his wife’s dedication to thank for posting an opening 69 in the Hassan Trophy in Morocco.
Hoey’s clubs were lost in transit on the way to Rabat, but his wife Bev went the extra mile to ensure he received a replacement set, which he used to good effect at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam.
The 39-year-old wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “Today my Mrs flew from Belfast to London, drove to @TitleistEurope, picked up clubs, drove to Heathrow, flew Royal air Maroc to Casablanca, picked up more clubs & taxied it to Rabat just So I could play, that’s commitment! Legend.”
A day later, Hoey carded four birdies and a solitary bogey to finish two shots behind clubhouse leaders Bradley Dredge and Alvaro Quiros, with England’s Oliver Fisher part of a five-way tie for third on four under.
Dredge partnered Stephen Dodd to a World Cup victory for Wales in 2005 and won the last of his European Tour titles the following year, but has not recorded a top-ten finish since August 2016.
“I’m very pleased to be leading the tournament after round one,” Dredge said. “I played nicely all day. I’ve been lacking a bit of consistency and today I really drove it in play every hole and hit a lot of fairways. From there I gave myself a lot of chances. The course is in immaculate condition. It’s a matter of getting the ball in play and trying to be careful into the greens and understanding where the pin is and understanding where you can putt from and not putt from.
“I haven’t played a great deal this year [just three events before this week]. I feel as though it’s progressing quite well at the moment, so I’m quite pleased the way it’s trending, as a lot of guys say.”
Defending champion Edoardo Molinari, who defeated Paul Dunne in a play-off 12 months ago, struggled to an opening 75, with his only birdie of the day coming on the 18th. Dunne began the week as favourite following his runners-up finish in the Spanish Open last week and was two under par after 12 holes but had to settle for a 73 after a double bogey on the 13th, followed by bogeys on the next two holes.