A new “chilled out” attitude helped Ireland’s Michael Hoey continue his bid for a first European Tour title today.
The 30-year-old added a five-under-par 66 to his opening 69 to reach halfway on seven under par at the Madeira Islands Open BPI-Portugal on Porto Santo.
Hoey leads by one from fellow Irishman Michael McGeady, who in the last match of the day double-bogeyed the final hole, Ryder Cup Swede Joakim Haeggman and Argentina’s Estanislao Goya.
Back in 2001 and just 21 at the time, Hoey followed his win in the British amateur championship with an 11th place finish in the Scottish Open and then helped a Walker Cup team also featuring Luke
Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty to victory in America.
They have all gone on to taste Tour success, but since missing the cut at the 2002 Masters by a single stroke Hoey has made six trips to the qualifying school.
Last November was the first time he came through it, but two months ago he was joint second behind Retief Goosen in the Africa Open and now is hoping to go one better.
“I’m taking a more relaxed view and it’s paying off so far,” he told European Tour Radio.
“You can put yourself under too much pressure in this game and I just told myself to chill out basically.”
Four of his six birdies came in his first six holes, the last of them when he was only a foot away from a hole-in-one at the 128-yard 15th.
Haeggman and Irishman Damien McGrane were the overnight leaders, but McGrane double-bogeyed the short fifth in his 72.
Compatriot McGeady is playing only his second Tour event after suffering real agony at the qualifying school four months ago.
A closing par would have given the 30-year-old from Co. Donegal a card, but he bogeyed it.
His finish today will not hurt as much as that because he still has 36 holes to repair the damage, but after six birdies and no bogeys in his previous 17 holes it took a lot of the gloss off his day’s work.
Spaniard Carlos Rodiles was round in 65 to move to four under and joint fifth place with McGrane, but that stood as a course record for the new Seve Ballesteros lay-out for only a few minutes as England’s Richard Bland improved 14 strokes on his opening 78 to get back to level par.