Hope springs eternal as Hoey pockets healthy British Masters prize

Michael Hoey / Image from Getty Images
Michael Hoey / Image from Getty Images

Michael Hoey bounced back from a moving day wobble to secure another rock solid European Tour finish at the Betfred British Masters.

The Ballymoney professional put the disappointment of Saturday’s 73 behind him to return a two-under par 70 that saw him jump seven places to a tie for 30th on six-under par at Hillside Golf Club.

The result is another healthy cash injection for Hoey and caddie, Chris Selfridge with the pair pocketing a cool €28,862 for the performance with Hoey on a fine run of form since his tied 17th finish at the Kenyan Open in March.

While another man to show grit after a much more debilitating moving day collapse was 2017 champion, Paul Dunne who banished the memories of a Saturday 78 with a two-under par 70 of his own as the Greystone star picked up a consolation prize of €5,590 for his 70th place finish at even par.

Earlier in the week, a sharp cut falling at two-under par saw Gavin Moynihan’s even par second round effort unable to repair the damage of an opening day 75 as he missed out on the weekend action by five shots.

At the summit, there was no stopping Marcus Kinhult who held off challenges from defending champion Eddie Pepperell, four-time winner Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre to win his first European Tour title at Hillside.

The Swede birdied the final two holes after dropping two strokes on the previous two holes, to finish one ahead of Pepperell, Wallace and MacIntyre, the young Scot chasing his first victory on just his 14th European Tour start.

“It’s unreal,” said the winner. “I’ve been dreaming about it for such a long time and to finally do it is amazing. My knees were shaking on that final putt. My hands were shaking. Everything was shaking. It’s hard to remember now. Just so much nerves and so much willpower, I guess. It’s a cool feeling.

“It was a real fight today. I played solid the front nine. Could have played better and then played okay beginning of the back nine and made bogey on 15 and 16. Then just managed to hole two good putts on 17 and 18.

“It was tough. I just tried to stay patient, composed and somehow I made those two last birdies. It is great. This is a very prestigious event and a nice little trophy to have. To get it as my first win is special.

“I had a great first impression when I got here Monday. I was just loving it here. The weather has been fantastic over the weekend. The crowds have been great crowds this week. I was surprised to see that many coming out on the weekend, since it’s a Premier League day today.

There was a four-way tie on 15-under par when Kinhult and Wallace stood on the 18th tee, but Kinhult converted a birdie putt from eight feet to claim his maiden title, becoming the third Swedish winner of the British Masters after Alex Noren in 2016 and Johan Edfors in 2006.

MacIntyre looked to have dropped out of contention after a double bogey on the par five second hole, but he pulled a shot back on the fourth hole and then played the back nine in five under par to race up the leaderboard.

Pepperell, defending the title he won at Walton Heath in October, carded a final round six-under par 66, while Wallace, who shared the 54-hole lead with Kinhult, signed for a one-under par round to join him and MacIntyre in second place.

“It was a good round,” said Pepperell. “Very steady, really. I only hit a couple of bad shots but it was very steady. The whole week, I only made two bogeys actually which for me is remarkable.

“I kind of set myself a target of 17 a round after the turn, and I thought, I expected those guys to get to 17 — get to 16 in the end. They were not far off that. Pins weren’t easy today and the pressure at the end playing with those guys, you can never be too sure. But fair play to Marcus. He’s been a good player for a while, so it is good to see.”

Richie Ramsay took solo fifth place on 12 under par after a level par round, with English pair Jordan Smith and Paul Waring sharing sixth on 11 under.

Tournament host Tommy Fleetwood shared eighth place on ten under par with five other golfers, including former World Number One Martin Kaymer.

“I think it’s been great,” reflected Fleetwood. “My own performance wasn’t good particularly, from start to finish, I didn’t hit it great. But you know, I could have hit them better on the last few holes, of course I could have. Things maybe caught up with me in the end. I was disappointing the way I played.

“I couldn’t have asked for more from the event. It is the first event I ever had a part in hosting and brought it to Southport, and you never know how it’s going to go. It’s been amazing.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from everybody who has turned out, or just watching or working the event and volunteering and made it such a great event and very memorable for me.”

Full Scoring HERE