Michael Hoey has his wife to thank for hot start in Morocco

Fond memories and past form at a tournament can do a lot for a golfer, even during those times when there seems to be no end to the struggle. Having golf clubs to play with can also help.

In the opening round of the Trophee Hassan II at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco, Michael Hoey channeled the memories of lifting the trophy six years ago to card a much-needed good round on the European Tour using a replacement set of clubs after his had been lost in transit on the way to Rabat.

The 39-year-old from Belfast held off Damien McGrane to take the title in 2012, albeit at the Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir. What he would do to win that title again, secure his European Tour playing rights and end a five-year winless spell which has seen him relegated to the Challenge Tour in recent times.

And perhaps it is fate after his wife flew from Belfast to London on Wednesday to pick up a second set of clubs before flying to Casablanca with them and then getting a taxi to Rabat so that her husband would be able to play this week.

Hoey has made just one cut this year – finishing tied 18th at the Kenya Open on the Challenge Tour last month – but, after one round at the trecherously difficult Par 72 which has undergone a revamp over the last year, he sits two off the lead held by Bradley Dredge and Alvaro Quiros after a round of 69, three under par.

Hoey’s win seven years ago made him the second Irishman to lift the trophy after Pádraig Harrington emerged victorious in 2007 while Paul Dunne came within a playoff of becoming the third last year as he was pipped by Edoardo Molinari.

After his second place finish at the Open de Espana on Sunday, Dunne came into this week as the favourite for the first time in his career. And he was well on his way to justifying that tag in the first round, getting within two of the lead through 12 holes before it all unravelled when the Greystones man dropped four shots in the next three holes.

Paul Dunne tees of the 10th hole. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Paul Dunne tees of the 10th hole. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

A double bogey at the 13th was followed by back-to-back bogeys which saw Dunne slip back to two over par. However, a birdie at the 197-yard Par 3 17th pulled him back to one over and within six of the lead after a round of 73.

For Hoey it was a much smoother route towards the top of the leaderboard as he made birdies at the third and the eighth to go out in two under par.

His only dropped shot of the day came at the 10th before further birdies at the 12th and 15th saw him end the day just two off the lead of five under.

For Gavin Moynihan the struggles continued with a round of 77, five over par after he carded seven bogeys and two birdies.

Collated first round scores in the European Tour Trophee Hassan II, Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, Morocco (Britain unless stated, Irish in bold, par 72):

67 Bradley Dredge, Alvaro Quiros (Spa)

68 Joakim Lagergren(Swe), Benjamin Rusch (x) (Ch), Lorenzo Gagli(Ita), Erik Van Rooyen(Rsa), Oliver Fisher

69 Ashun Wu (Chn), Austin Connelly (Can), Lee Slattery, Michael Hoey (NIrl)

70 Steven Brown, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Daniel Brooks, Callum Shinkwin, Andrew Dodt(Aus), Matthias Schwab(Aut), Raphael Jacquelin(Fra), Seung-su Han(USA), Stephen Gallacher, Adrian Otaegui(Spa), Nacho Elvira(Spa), Nino Bertasio(Ita)

71 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Matthew Nixon, Jonathan Thomson, Romain Langasque(Fra), Darren Fichardt(Rsa), Aaron Rai, Jason Scrivener(Aus), Marcel Siem(Ger), Wade Ormsby(Aus), Benjamin Hebert(Fra), Sean Crocker(USA), Richard Sterne(Rsa)

72 Pontus Widegren (Swe), Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Mikko Ilonen (Fin), Joost Luiten(Ned), Paul Waring, Nicolas Colsaerts(Bel), Ryan Fox(Nzl), Jin-ho Choi(Kor), Phachara Khongwatmai(Tha), Robert Karlsson(Swe), Alexander Levy(Fra), Andy Sullivan, Chris Hanson, David Lipsky(USA), Gregory Bourdy(Fra), Pedro Oriol(Spa)

73 Ricardo Gouveia (Por), Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Jorge Campillo (Spa), Matteo Manassero(Ita), Renato Paratore(Ita), Dean Burmester(Rsa), Laurie Canter, Marc Warren, Paul Dunne (Irl), Alejandro Canizares(Spa), Christiaan Bezuidenhout(Rsa), Connor Syme, Thomas Detry(Bel), Yusaku Miyazato(Jpn), Richie Ramsay, Ahmed Marjan(Mor), Daniel Willett, David Howell, Ashley Chesters, Pep Angles(Spa), Ayoub Id-Omar (a)(Mor), Julien Guerrier(Fra), Romain Wattel(Fra), Jeunghun Wang(Kor), Ryan Evans, Jamie Donaldson

74 Joel Stalter (Fra), Lasse Jensen (Den), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Daniel Im(USA), Brandon Stone(Rsa), Josh Geary(Nzl), Karim El Hali(Mor), Jamie Elson, Adam Bland(Aus), Robert Rock, Tapio Pulkkanen(Fin), Sam Horsfield, Rak hyun Cho(Kor), Jordan Smith, Eddie Pepperell, Thomas Pieters(Bel), Marcel Schneider(Ger)

75 Nico Geyger (Chi), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Carlos Pigem (Spa), Pablo Larrazabal(Spa), Adrien Saddier(Fra), Yassine Touhami(Mor), Edoardo Molinari(Ita), Gregory Havret(Fra), Marcus Fraser(Aus), Matthieu Pavon(Fra), Clement Sordet(Fra), Scott Fernandez(Spa), George Coetzee(Rsa), Jason Norris(Aus), Paul Lawrie, Andrea Pavan(Ita), (a) Ayoub Lguirati(Mor), Oliver Farr, Jack Munro(Aus)

76 Luke Joy, Grant Forrest, Jacques Kruyswijk (Rsa), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Henric Sturehed(Swe), Felipe Aguilar(Chi), Peter Hanson(Swe), Chase Koepka(USA), Jeff Winther(Den), Gavin Green(Mal), Soomin Lee(Kor), Chris Wood, David Horsey, Matthew Baldwin, Rhys Davies, Fabrizio Zanotti(Par), Justin Walters(Rsa), Ross McGowan

77 Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Charlie Ford, Sebastian Heisele (Ger), Zander Lombard(Rsa), Scott Jamieson, Gavin Moynihan (Irl), James Heath, Thomas Bjorn(Den), Sam Brazel(Aus)

78 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Christofer Blomstrand (Swe), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), John Kelly(USA), Bradley Neil, Mark Foster

79 Matt Wallace, James Morrison, Jens Dantorp (Swe), Graeme Storm

80 Ben Evans, Anthony Wall, David Drysdale

81 Richard Bland, Brett Rumford (Aus), Sebastien Gros (Fra)

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