Hoey flying high after eagle

10/1/2011 1:17:21 PM
Michael Hoey  (Getty Images)
Michael Hoey (Getty Images)
Michael Hoey and Graeme McDowell were continuing Northern Ireland's remarkable recent golfing success story at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

McDowell got the ball rolling with his US Open Championship victory at Pebble Beach last year, following up by securing the winning point for Europe in The Ryder Cup at The Celtic Manor Resort.

He was succeeded as US Open Champion by compatriot Rory McIlroy earlier this year, while Darren Clarke then won The Open Championship at Royal St George's to give Northern Ireland their third Major Champion in little over a year.

Hoey has yet to hit those heights despite a successful amateur career which saw him play on the same victorious Walker Cup team as World Number One Luke Donald in 2001, but the 32 year old held a two shot lead after a brilliant start to his third round.

Starting from the tenth at Carnoustie - one of three courses used for the pro-am event - overnight joint-leader Hoey birdied the 11th and 12th and then eagled the par five 14th to improve to 16 under par.

McDowell had carded an eagle of his own at St Andrews, holing out from 100 yards on the third and also picking up birdies at the first and fifth to move into outright second on 14 under.

Former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, back at St Andrews where he lifted The Claret Jug last year, was a shot behind on 13 under after three birdies and one bogey on the front nine of the Old Course.

England's Tommy Fleetwood, overnight joint leader with Hoey, was also 13 under after five holes at Carnoustie, with McIlroy and Lee Westwood ten under after ten and eight holes of St Andrews respectively.

Hoey briefly held a three shot lead with another birdie at the first, but he was unable to shake off a revitalised McDowell, who was reaping the rewards after linking up again with his former coach Clive Tucker.

After dropping a shot at the sixth, McDowell birdied the ninth and 10th to close within two of Hoey once more, while McIlroy had increased the Northern Irish presence on the leaderboard yet further.

McIlroy, who opened with a 63 in The Open Championship at St Andrews last year before crashing to a second round of 80, was six under for 15 holes and into a share of third on 13 under, alongside England's Simon Dyson who was nine under for his round with three to play.

Dyson was unable to pick up any further shots, leaving a birdie putt on the 18th inches short and having to settle for a round of 63, equalling the course record for the extended layout set by McIlroy in the Open last year.

"I'm very, very happy with the day," said Dyson, who is 30th in the Official World Golf Ranking after two wins this year. "I didn't realise it was for the course record otherwise I might have hit it a bit harder.

"But it's a good name to share it with."

At 13 under par, Dyson shared fifth place with McIlroy - who also parred the last four holes for his 66 - but Hoey was now 19 under after holing a bunker shot for a birdie on the third at Carnoustie.