Former British amateur champion Michael Hoey, joint second behind Retief Goosen at the Africa Open in January, was setting the pace at the Madeira Island Open BPI-Portugal on Porto Santo today.
The Irish 30-year-old, who came through the European Tour qualifying school at the sixth attempt last year, stood six under par with three holes of his second round to play.
He was one ahead of Ryder Cup Swede Joakim Haeggman, who had yet to resume, and two in front of Ireland’s Damien McGrane and Spaniard Carlos Rodiles.
Hoey birdied four of his first six holes to turn in 32, added another on the 452-yard second, but bogeyed two holes later.
McGrane, winner of last year’s China Open, had shared the overnight lead with Haeggman after finishing his opening round by holing a bunker shot, but he double-bogeyed the short fifth on his return to the Seve Ballesteros-designed lay-out.
He did then birdie the long eighth and 12th, but in between came a bogey six on the 10th.
Rodiles established a record for the course when he fired a six under 65, but it did not last long as England’s Richard Bland scored one better – and that after starting the tournament with a seven over 78. The Southampton golfer was back to level par as a result.
As an amateur Hoey finished 11th in the 2001 Scottish Open and he was a team-mate of Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty in the Walker Cup victory in America later that year.
He turned professional after playing in the 2002 Masters, was a Challenge Tour graduate in 2005, but lost his card immediately – and that 11th place at Loch Lomond eight years ago remains his best finish on the main circuit.