Victory tees Hoey up for Ryder debut
NORTHERN IRELAND’S Michael Hoey put himself back into the hunt for a Ryder Cup debut with a three-stroke victory at the Hassan Trophy in Morocco today.
Nine behind after his opening 74, the 33-year-old grabbed his fourth European Tour victory – and second of this cup campaign – with two superb closing rounds of 65.
Former British amateur champion Hoey took the £207,737 (¤248,389) first prize with a 17-under-par total of 271 and when asked about the Ryder Cup said: “I’ve not really been thinking about it, but I’m obviously in contention.”
He beat compatriot Rory Mcilroy at the Dunhill Links Championship last October and it was another Irishman, Damien Mcgrane, whom he pushed into second place this time.
Mcgrane shared the lead with a round to play along with Matteo Manassero.
The 18-year-old Italian had to win to have a chance of qualifying for the Masters via the world’s top 50, but fell away to joint sixth with a 72.
The 40-year-old Mcgrane led by three after starting with back-toback birdies.
He then found himself two behind when Hoey followed a two on the short second with four successive birdies from the fifth.
It was nip and tuck again when he bogeyed the long 10th and Mcgrane made four, but three more birdies in four holes from the short 14th settled it. Not that his 65 was the round of the day. It was not even close, in fact. Welshman Jamie Donaldson, yet to win in nearly 250 tour events, shot a course-record 61 to share third place with fellow countryman Phillip Price and England’s Robert Coles.
Donaldson covered the back nine first in 28, only one off the tour record, with two eagles and four birdies, then started for home with another birdie to be nine under for his first 10 holes.
The circuit’s first 59 was a possibility at that point, but he found the water on the long fifth.
After a six there, though, he added a further birdie on the seventh and at the 394-yard ninth sank his nine-iron approach for a third eagle.
After equalling his lowest ever round Donaldson said: “I forgot about the end result and concentrated on one shot at a time. It was a great day.”
As it was for Hoey, who had not had a top-10 finish since his victory at St Andrews nearly six months ago.
“I’ve worked hard with Jamie Gough. My swing is more consistent and Phil Kenyon has been helping me with my putting,” he said.
Manassero’s disappointing final round was good news for Ernie Els in Florida.
It meant the South African, joint third with a round to go in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, could make the world’s top 50 and qualify for the Masters by finishing in third rather than second.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey in action during the final round of the Trophee du Hassan II Golf at Golf du Palais Royal in Agadir, Morocco. Hoey won by three shots to put himself back in contention for Ryder Cup selection.