Sunday, 25 March 2012
Michael Hoey  (Getty Images)
Michael Hoey (Getty Images)

A second successive 65 gave Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey victory in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco.

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner, who trailed Damien McGrane by nine after an opening 74, was a brilliant 14 under for the weekend at Golf du Palais Royal as he finished with a 17 under par total.

“It’s all a bit surreal at the moment but it always feels like that for me,” he said.

“I was really trying to stay in the present all day and go through the routines of one shot at a time and everything else and then I was really surprised to see Damien had dropped shots as I played the 17th but it was great to have that three shot lead playing the last.

“When I saw that I just wanted to get a good drive down the last because it is a really tough hole and I managed to do that and the hit a great approach in there. I actually hit all the right shots at the right times over the closing holes which was really satisfying.

“I was actually thinking that I might struggle to make the cut after shooting two over in the first round but I started swinging the club really well and the confidence was there so it was great to back that up with the scores too. The second round was a good 67 and then to shoot two 65s over the weekend was pretty special really.”

Hoey’s three shot victory lifts him inside the top 15 on The Race to Dubai and puts him back in the hunt for a Ryder Cup debut later this year.

The 33 year old grabbed his fourth European Tour victory - and second in The Ryder Cup qualifying campaign – to take the €250,000 first prize and the trophy - a stunning jewelled gold dagger.

Asked about the Ryder Cup, the former British Amateur Champion said: "I've not really been thinking about it, but I'm obviously in contention."

He beat compatriot Rory McIlroy to the Alfred Dunhill Links title at St Andrews 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 Tournament via the Official World Golf Ranking's top 50, but fell away to joint sixth with a 72.

As for 40 year old McGrane, he led by three after starting with back-to-back birdies, but 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 tenth 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 European 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 European Tour record, with two eagles and four birdies, then started for home with another birdie to be nine under for his first ten holes.

The European Tour'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-ten finish since his victory at the Home of Golf 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 added.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HOEY, MichaelNIR18-17
2MCGRANE, DamienIRL18-14
T3COLES, RobertENG18-13
T3PRICE, PhillipWAL18-13
T6MOLINARI, EdoardoITA18-12

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