Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey continued his country’s superb run of golfing success by claiming victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews ahead of his fellow Ulstermen Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
Hoey began the day two strokes ahead of McDowell and four clear of McIlroy. But this year’s US Open champion quickly narrowed the deficit then took the lead after four birdies and an eagle on the front nine.
Another birdie on the 11th and McIlroy was seven under for his first 11 holes. But, the youngster didn’t card another and Hoey was able to fight back with birdies at the 15th and 16th. He negotiated the treacherous Road Hole in par and came to the last one shot clear. He rounded off with another birdie to take the victory – his second on the European Tour.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet and it won’t for a while,” Hoey said. “It’s taken a long time but I supposed in a weird way you enjoy it more because you have struggled through six goes at the Qualifying School. It’s not nice running out of money, being away from home, questioning your swing, and there are points where you wonder ‘Do I want to continue with this.”
McIlroy was upset to have missed out on the title.
“I’ve been very consistent, which is a good thing, but I want to get wins and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “It’s good to be one, two, three and see all of us (Northern Irish) boys up there, I’m just obviously disappointed that it wasn’t me lifting the trophy.”
It was a great week for local boy George Murray. His third place finish lifted him from 183rd to 90th on the Race to Dubai and all but secured his playing rights for 2012.
Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Old Course St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, Scotland
Sep 29 – Oct 2, purse €3,530,000
1 Michael Hoey (NIR) 66 66 66 68 266 €588,149
2 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 70 67 66 65 268 €392,097
T3 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 67 67 67 69 270 €198,677
T3 George Murray (Sco) 70 66 67 67 270 €198,677
T5 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 69 63 71 68 271 €126,334
T5 Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 66 67 69 69 271 €126,334
T5 Marc Warren (Sco) 67 67 70 67 271 €126,334
8 Padraig Harrington (Ire) 68 71 64 69 272 €88,222
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage only
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