There could be no starker contrast in the preparations of Michael Hoey and Christian Reimbold ahead of the A.G.F. Allianz Golf Open de Toulouse. While one was winning in Italy, the other was struck down by a debilitating virus that denied him golf for six months, but both men turned on the style to share the eight under par lead in France.
Northern Irishman Hoey’s season exploded into life three weeks ago at the Tessali-Metaponto Open di Puglia e Basilicata, where his play-off victory restored the confidence and form that had helped him, graduate the Challenge Tour in 2005.
In the three weeks since that victory, Hoey had time to fine tune a game that was already in fine shape as he looked forward to arriving in Toulouse riding high on a wave of confidence.
While Hoey was lifting the second Challenge tour title of his career in Italy three weeks ago, Germany’s Reimbold was only just recovering from a bout of Coxsackie virus, a disease that had left him unable to swing a club for six months.
Having recovered from the virus, the 29 year old from Düsseldorf began to prepare for the A.G.F. Allianz Golf Open de Toulouse only to damage his wrist in practice.
Going against medical advice, Reimbold took the chance on playing in France, and was rewarded with a spectacular opening score that saw him birdie all four of the Golf de Toulouse Seilh’s par threes as well as make an eagle two on the par four seventh hole to help him to an eight under par 64 and a share of the lead with Hoey.
“That was an amazing score today considering that I did not know if I was going to play this week because I could not move my wrist last Friday,” said Reimbold.
“I went to the doctor on Monday and he said that I probably would not be able to play this week but I told him I had to, that I have to earn a living, so I took the chance and flew to France on Tuesday.
“So far it has been the right decision and I just hope that I can continue to play like this because the last six months have been very difficult for me. I came back from the first two Challenge Tour events of the year in Mexico and Argentina and was very sick.
“I had a virus called Coxsackie, which affected my heart and was very worrying because there were points when I could not move. I didn’t play for six months so to be in this position is great. I had a bit of luck today with the eagle and birdieing all the par threes, but you need that if you are going to go all the way – I wouldn’t mind making five twos in every round that’s for sure!”
Hoey’s first round was merely a continuation of the spectacular form that saw him win in Italy three weeks ago. Eight birdies, ten pars and a share of the lead was a satisfying start for a man on top of his game.
“I played solid again today – I had no bogeys on the card which is something that you are always pleased with,” said Hoey.
“I have been trying to keep the winning form going in the three weeks we have had off and it seems to have worked. I have playing a lot more round of golf and trying to keep a score going rather than standing hitting balls all day.
“I did that last year. I would spend hours on the range hitting balls, trying to perfect everything and I ended up confusing myself, so actually playing practice rounds seems to be a better way for me to keep the game in shape.”
Hoey and Reimbold lead Frenchman Sebastien Delagrange, Argentina’s Rodolpho Gonzalez and England’s Van Phillips by two going into the second round, with a further six players on five under.