Michael Hoey brilliantly celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his Alfred Dunhill Links Championship success in winning the team prize at the Home of Golf in Scotland.
Hoey teamed with Maeve Danaher, wife of Gerry McManus, defeating the combination of Kiwi Grant Fox and Aussie legendary cricketing amateur partner, Shane Warne in a count-back after both finished locked at 36-under par. Hoey won with a lower 72-hole lower score of eight-under par compared to Fox who ended his campaign at two-under. T.
On top of his individual effort in collecting €42,439 in finishing 24th, Hoey pocketed an additional €43,096 for the team prize for an overall prize cheque of €85,537. It is the largest windfall the Belfast golfer has earned since a €90,000 effort in finishing seventh at the 2014 French Open.
“It’s a great result given this week marked 10-years since I won the individual Dunhill title and never thought in my wildest dreams, I would also now win the team prize,” said Hoey.
“I played really well and Meave just came in on the right holes, and overall, we just had an enjoyable week. Right from the start with a 65 at Kingsbarns we were in a good position. “The cash reward also is great though it would be nice if it counted on the Challenge Tour money list (smiling). No, it’s a big bonus and I am naturally very happy”.
Danaher was making her fourth appearance in the event and is the first woman in the 20-year history of the event to win the team prize. She plays most of her golf at Adare Manor and while a normal right-hander, she plays golf left-handed except when she putts.
“I am absolutely delighted and I am in shock we won”, she said. “I’ve played this event a few times now and every course is a challenge and the weather is also a challenge but to be standing here with Michael is a wonderful feeling. “I drove the ball really well this week and that was the key to my good scoring but it definitely wasn’t my putting. And I’m so happy for Michael for him to now win the team prize 10-years after winning the individual title is wonderful”.
Hoey had superbly drained a four-foot birdie at the last in a final round three-under par 69 for an eight-under par tally but it was a long wait and the likelihood that Danny Willett, who won the tournament by two shots at 18-under par, would also capture the team prize with playing partner Jimmy Dunne of Seminole Golf Club fame.nIn the end, Willett and Dunne finished third at 35-under par. Hoey had produced scores of 65 on day one at Kingsbarns Links while he experienced the weather at it’s worst over the four days in posting a 75 at the Old Course on Friday and then headed to Carnoustie for a third round 71.
Hoey’s last day’s play was a mix of three outward birdies and then a level par inward nine of two birdies and just as many bogeys. “The putt on the last there, I knew there was a bit of money on it, and I’m trying not to think about money, I can see finishing fourth on Challenge Tour over that putt”, said Hoey. “I’m glad I made a good stroke, but it was more about the team as well. There’s obviously a little bit of financial support in the team, and to not let Neve down on the last, to contribute, because we have a chance to win it. So there were a few things going on on 18.
“But didn’t play unbelievable today, but kept it pretty solid because this can pay for my season. And it’s quite a big thing”. Hoey heads home for a week’s break and it’s back onto the Challenge Tour for the closing three events in Spain including the season-ending Race to Mallorca Rolex Tour Challenge final starting on November 4th. He’s currently 31st on the money list and needing to be among the leading 20 that would see Hoey back on the main Tour in 2022.
“I will need top-three’s. Yeah, I need top threes or a win,” he said. “And it’s hard on the Challenge Tour. I know I keep going on about the Challenge Tour and everyone is sick to death about it, but 58, it’s 22-under after three rounds, and the courses are not that easy. It’s an incredibly high standard. “I almost find it easier at these events, it’s windy, tougher conditions, tougher golf courses, where I can actually feel like I compete better. But I still have to go down a level and do it. “Otherwise, it’s like John Murphy, we were talking about it, I shared a house with him two weeks ago in France, and just getting the mindset you have to go for everything on Challenge, and every day someone shoots 10-under par. “So, John’s probably finding it easier this week in these tougher conditions and better golf courses.
“If I finish top 20 it gets me into a lot of events. But with the safety net, it’s not going to get into that much. So, we really need to be aggressive and try and get into the top 20. “The big thing is I am just enjoying it, as I said. I’m enjoying it, so it keeps me playing”.
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