Friday, 19 March 2010
Madeira Islands Open BPI - Round Three  (Getty Images)
Madeira Islands Open BPI - Round Three (Getty Images)

Michael Hoey dropped a shot at the first hole of his third round to drop back into a four way tie for the lead at the Madeira Islands Open BPI - Portugal at Porto Santo Golfe.

These are good times for Irish golf, with Padraig Harrington winning the last two majors and Rory McIlroy proving himself perhaps the most exciting new talent in the game.

And this weekend could see more success for the Emerald Isle on The European Tour.

Northern Ireland's Hoey is joined in the lead at six under by County Donegal's Michael McGeady, and County Meath's Damien McGrane was tied for fifth only three back.

Argentinian Estanislao Goya and Sweden’s Joakim Haeggman are also contesting the lead in the early stages of their rounds.

Hoey and McGeady are both going for their first Tour victories - McGeady is playing only his second event on the circuit - while McGrane broke his duck at the age of 37 last April when he captured the Volvo China Open.

A new "chilled out" attitude is helping Hoey, who back in 2001, and aged only 21 at the time, followed his win in the British amateur championship with an 11th place finish in the Scottish Open, then helped a Walker Cup team also featuring Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty to victory in America.

They have all gone on to taste Tour success but, since missing the cut at The Masters Tournament in 2002 by a single stroke, Hoey has made six trips to Qualifying School.

Last November was the first time he came through it but two months ago he was joint second behind Retief Goosen in the Africa Open and now he is hoping to go one better.

"I'm taking a more relaxed view and it's paying off so far," he said. "You can put yourself under too much pressure in this game and I just told myself to chill out basically."

Hoey played some practice rounds with rising star McIlroy last season and, as the youngster prepares for his Masters debut in only three weeks, his compatriot said: "Nobody hits it better than Rory and mentally he's just so good - at 19 I was an absolute child."

McGeady suffered real agony at the qualifying school four months ago.

A closing par would have given the 30 year old from County Donegal a card but he bogeyed it.

A double bogey finish last night which cost him the outright halfway lead will not have hurt as much because he still has 36 holes to repair the damage.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GOYA, EstanislaoARG18-6
2MACAULAY, CallumSCO18-5
T3MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-4
5WALL, AnthonyENG18-3
6HOEY, MichaelNIR18-2
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