Ireland’s Michael Hoey feels the growing number of his compatriots making their mark on the European Challenge Tour is creating healthy competition, as he looks to make it back-to-back Irish winners with victory at the Challenge or Ireland presented by Glasson.
Hoey is hoping to cap a memorable month for Irish golf following Pardraig Harrington’s successful defence of The Open Championship and Michael McGeady’s win at the SWALEC Wales Challenge last week.
The man from Belfast has tasted victory already himself this season, winning the Banque Populaire Morroccan Classic on the same day fellow Irishman Peter Lawrie’s clinched the Open de España on The European Tour.
Hoey, who is 21st on the Challenge Tour Rankings, is a stable mate of McGeady’s and Gareth Maybin – as well as Barclays Scottish Open winner Graeme McDowell – and he believes the camaraderie between them is contributing to their success.
He said: “Gareth is now ahead of me in the Rankings and Michael McGeady is not far off so it’s great we are all doing well. I was doing the best but now I have something to aim at. It pushes you.
“I finished in the top 10 a couple of years ago and we also had David Higgins but apart from that there hasn’t been many Irish players there but they are coming through now.
“With myself, Michael and Gareth, we all get on well and travel together so it helps us all.”
The trio are part of a strong Irish contingent teeing up at Glasson Golf Hotel & Country Club, Athlone, which also includes Stephen Browne and Richard Kilpatrick, but Hoey is confident it can be his week to shine again.
He said: “I’ve never really done that well when I have played in Ireland – there probably is a little bit more pressure on me – but I am hitting the ball well at the moment. Last week in Wales I probably made the most birdies in the field but I also had a few bogeys.
“I’m playing well and I’m just looking for some consistency now. Last year I made the cut here but didn’t do much at the weekend. I think this course suits me though. I can’t see it being a low scoring week. I don’t like it when the scores are 20 under par – my game is more suited to the 10 under or 12 under tournaments. I think here to get a par on some holes here is very good.”
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