Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland came within a pair of lip-outs of equalling the world record for consecutive birdies as he made seven in a row on his way to a brilliant 65 in the second round of the Tshwane Open.
The 35-year-old five-time winner on the European Tour turned in level-par after making a birdie and a bogey in his opening nine – and then he turned things on: Putts started dropping from all over the greens and, before he knew it, he had seven birdies in a row on his card.
During the 2009 RBC Canadian Open on the US PGA Tour, Mark Calcavecchia rolled in an incredible nine birdies in a row. And, on the European Tour, Seve Ballesteros made eight in a row in the 1985 Italian Open. That’s a mark that has been equalled nine times since, including by Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone in 1990. The most recent time it was matched was in 2003 by Craig Spence in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth.
“Strangely enough, I got five in a row in my first round,” Hoey said. “That was my record. I first did it in October at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. And then when I got three in a row, I thought I’d just try and equal the record again. I got five, and then I though, I’d just try and get six.
“And then I got six and then I got seven. I was trying not to think about the European Tour record, and I was trying just to play golf.
“I was a little bit unlucky then. There was a big pitch mark on the last. The ball was going in and then it lipped out. I should have fixed the pitch mark a little better, paid a little more attention. That would have been nine birdies in 11 holes if that had gone in.
“I had a putt for eight in a row on 17, too. And late in the day, the green was a little bit bumpy. There were quite a few foot marks on my line. I hit a good putt and it jumped in the air, and it still lipped out. It was a really good effort for the Tour record,” he added.
As important as the record may have been to Hoey, his position in the tournament was greatly enhanced as he moved to within three strokes of the lead.
“I knew I was going to be around the lead, or two shot behind,” he said, “but there’s such a long way to go still and I’m looking forward to the next two days.”
If he’s able to pull off five birdies in a row in his first round and seven in his second, he may be unstoppable over the weekend.