NI Open: Michael Hoey five behind but still faces Galgorm cut sweat

Michael Hoey survey a shot in Thursday's opening round at the Northern Ireland Open
Michael Hoey is again tournament ambassador at the Galgorm Castle event
Northern Ireland Open first-round leaderboard
-6 Porteous (SA), Hahn (US), Turner (Ire), Huizing (Neth), Cuartero Blanco (Sp); -5 Sluiter (Neth), Thornton (Ire), Gros (Fra), Glennemo (Swe), Goya (Arg), Wakefield (Eng), Manley (Wal), Stone (SA), Arnold (Aus), Evans (Eng)
Selected others: -3 Selfridge (NI), P Lawrie (Ire); -2 R Whitson (NI); -1 Hoey (NI), McGowan (Eng), Ferrie (Eng); Level McGeady (Ire), Carvill (NI), McLarnon am (NI); +1 Price (Wal); +2 McGee (Ire), Campbell am (NI), McGrane (Ire); +3 Dunbar (NI); +5 Hanson (Eng); +7 Ballesteros (Sp)

Michael Hoey is five off the pace after day one at the Northern Ireland Open but still faces a battle to prevent a third straight missed cut in the event.

The event ambassador's one-under 70 left him sharing 56th and only the top 60 and ties will make the 36-hole cut.

2013 Galgorm Castle winner Daan Huizing is among the leading group on 65.

The other leaders are Cork man Niall Turner, US player John Hahn, South Africa's Haydn Porteous and Spain's Emilio Cuartero Blanco.

A bunched leaderboard sees county Down-based Simon Thornton in a large group a stroke off the pace, which also includes Huizing's Dutch compatriot Tim Sluiter, who contended last year at Galgorm.

Scotsman Jamie McLeary got off to a flying start on Thursday morning as his immediate birdie at the 10th was followed by an eagle at the tough par-four eleventh as he holed his second shot.

However after reaching the turn in 31, McLeary found the back nine a tougher proposition as he needed a closing birdie to sign for a four-under-par 67.

Jamie McLeary is two shots off the pace after an opening 67
Scotsman Jamie McLeary holed his second shot at the difficult 11th for an eagle

Host club tournament professional Hoey picked up a routine birdie at the short par-four second but immediately gave the shot back at the third and dropped to one over after bogeying the eighth.

The Belfast man managed to pick up three birdies in the remainder of his round, with his four at the par-five last meaning that he had squeezed under par.

Of the other Irish hopefuls, Castledawson man Chris Selfridge continued his impressive start to his professional career as a three-under 68 left himself sharing 25th in a group which also included former Spanish Open champion Peter Lawrie, while Royal County Down's Reeve Whitson shot a 69 .

Selfridge's only blemishes were frustrating as he bogeyed the 18th, his ninth hole, and then dropped two shots at the short fifth before regrouping with three late birdies.

Derryman Michael McGeady, Chris Carvill and amateur Tiarnan McLarnon all matched the par of 71 which left them alongside European Tour winner Nick Dougherty but Ruaidhri McGee, Gareth Shaw and Damien McGrane will have work to do on Friday after their 73s.

Former British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar may need to shoot in the mid-60s to be involved over the weekend after his disappointing 74 while Javier Ballesteros, the son of the legendary Seve, had only a couple of players below him after carding a seven-over-par 78.

Twenty-four-year-old Ballesteros, who achieved a top-20 finish in the Najeti Open Challenge Tour event in June, had an immediate double bogey at the first and dropped two more strokes at the 11th in a round which included a solitary birdie.

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