Michael Hoey (Getty Images)
Michael Hoey romped to a four shot victory as he sealed a fifth European Tour title at the M2M Russian Open.
The Northern Irishman started the day with a four shot lead after a brilliant third round 65 at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
A closing two under par 70 was enough to give Hoey a 16 under par total and four shot winning margin over France’s Alexandre Kaleka and England’s Matthew Nixon.
“I have absolutely loved the golf course this week,” said Hoey. “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.
“It has given me a great boost. I am not the most consistent player in the world but when I get into these positions I usually do ok. 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.”
The 34 year old - 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 last year’s winner Kaleka 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.
“Then there are always a couple of guys who are going to come out of the pack. It was Rikard [Karlberg], who I was playing with, on the front nine and then Alex really got close to me on the back nine.
“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. 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.”
Kaleka, who captured this title last year when it formed part of the Challenge Tour schedule, had five birdies before bogeying the 18th for a 68, while Nixon came home in 33 for a 69.
Hansen finished alone in fourth after dropping two shots on the 18th for a 68, with China’s Liang Wen-chong, France’s Gregory Havret and English pair James Morrison and Mark Foster a shot further back on ten under.