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Hungry Hoey claims fifth European Tour win

Michael Hoey continued his amazing record as voracious finisher when he cruised to his fifth European Tour win with a commanding four-shot victory in the M2M Russian Open.

A final round of two under par 70 at the Tseleevo Golf and Polo Club left the Belfast man on 16 under par – four clear of France’s Alexandre Kaleka and England’s Matthew Nixon.

“It has given me a great boost,” said Hoey, who won €166,660 and moved to 81st in The Race to Dubai from 142nd. “I am not the most consistent player in the world but when I get into these positions I usually do okay.

“But the next aim for me has to be to become a bit more consistent because that is the only way I will be able to get back among the best players in the world and stay there.”

A team mate of Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald in the 2001 Walker Cup, 34-year Hoey has struggled to make it and would be the first to admit that he is one of the most unpredictable players on tour.

Capable off seeing off the likes of McDowell and Rory McIlroy to win the Dunhill Links title two years ago, he also goes on long, barren runs.

A quick look at his record on the European Tour shows that he has played 186 events on the main tour and finished in the money in just 87 of them - just 46% of the time.

He has had just eight top 10s in those 87 events but it a testament to Hoey’s killer instinct that five of them are wins.

That’s the same number of European Tour victories as two-time major winner McIlroy, Harry Bradshaw and David Feherty and one more than Christy O’Connor Jnr, Eddie Polland, Eamonn Darcy or Paul McGinley.

“I did feel the pressure a bit today because I wasn’t swinging it as freely as I had done yesterday but I got the job done in the end,” said Hoey, who became a father for the first time last month.

“Making my first birdie of the day on the seventh was a bit of a turning point because I had burned a few edges before that and you start to wonder if it is going to be your day.

“I have absolutely loved the golf course this week. It is a great Nicklaus design and one of the best we will play on Tour for the whole year. The greens are just so pure and when you have surfaces like that to putt on then you can make a lot of putts.

“The putting was the key for me this week. I have been working hard on that a lot recently and the improvement is really showing because I making a lot of birdies. That is the main difference at this level – you have to be able to make a lot of putts because the standard is so high these days that it usually comes down to who makes the most putts.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that I have won five European Tour titles. It is a great feeling to win and every time you do it you just want more and more. Hopefully I can get at least another one before the end of the season.”

Hoey - who had not finished better than 25th on The European Tour this season and missed seven of his last ten cuts coming into the event – began his final round with six consecutive pars but birdies at the seventh and eighth saw him advance to 16 under par and turn five clear.

His only dropped shot of the day came at the 12th, and Kaleka – who won this event of the Challenge Tour last year – and Dane JB Hansen closed the gap to two before Hoey birdied the 17th, with both his nearest challengers dropping shots on the last.

“It was tough for me today because when you have a five shot lead your natural instinct is to defend the lead,” added Hoey. “I was trying to be more aggressive because that is usually the best form of defence but it is tough in the final round when you know you are so far ahead.”

David Higgins and Gareth Shaw closed with one over 73s to share 51st place on three over.


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