On a day when golfers took to the course like ducks to water, Michael Hoey needed a course record 64 to hold the lead after 18.
The native of Northern Ireland was 8-under par to take a 1-stroke lead over three competitors. He did not record a single bogey while notching eight birdies, including three straight between No. 4 and 6.
He’ll take that 1-stroke lead to Friday over a trio of unexpected competitors – Spain’s Carlos Pigem, the US’ David Lipsky and Taiwan’s Chien-yao Hung.
Ranked 448th in the world, Pigem came out of nowhere down the stretch with two birdies and an eagle 3 on the 590-yard No. 18 to make up four strokes in three holes. Pigem’s previous high round this year was tied for 42nd last week at the Malaysian Open.
Lipsky, ranked 148th in the world, also had eight birdies, but slapped a bogey on No. 8 to avoid tying for the lead. Ironically, Lipksy’s tied Pigem for 42nd at Malaysia.
Hung finished 52nd in Malaysia at 2-over. This is only the second career Euro Tour event for the 24-year-old.
About the only known name in the top 10 is the oldest guy in the field, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, checking in with a 5-under 67 to tie for sixth. Jimenez, who recently scored an ace, added an eagle 2 on the par-4, 474-yard No. 9.