Hoey’s challenge fades at Mallorca Grand Final


Michael Hoey (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Michael Hoey’s hopes of main tour promotion this season are all but over after a moving day five-over par round of 76 saw him fall down the leaderboard at the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A.

Needing a top-3 finish this week to force his way into the top-20 on the money-list, Hoey had been going along nicely at three-under par through two rounds before coming unstuck on Saturday in Spain where he fell to two-over par, 12 shots back of the lead and nine strokes off third.

Even a top-30 finish on the season-long  money-list would improve Hoey’s status for next season and although he’s already guaranteed some starts on the main tour just by qualifying for this week’s Grand Final, he’s now up against it in terms of improving his category any further after two straight bogeys to his fourth and final round. The 42-year old is projected to fall to 39th on the Road to Mallorca.

At the top, Jesper Kennegard is within touching distance of a European Tour card after moving into the lead at the end of day three.

The Swede posted a four under par round of 67 to move to ten under par, one stroke clear of Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde, who could tomorrow become the third Dane to win the Road to Mallorca Rankings after 2018 Champion JB Hansen and former Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn, who finished as Challenge Tour Number One in 1995.

Kennegard arrived at T Golf & Country Club in 40th position on the Road to Mallorca Rankings knowing he needs at least a top three finish to earn one of the 20 European Tour cards on offer, and his fate is now in his own hands after seizing the initiative on moving day.

“It was just like yesterday, tough out there,” said Kennegard. “I obviously played well; I made a good one on 16 and made a good par save on 14, and on 13 as well, so I was playing pretty well but in the first seven holes I just couldn’t get them to drop. I stayed patient and just tried to see what happens. I’ll take this position going into Sunday.

“(On his partner caddying for him) “We’re just having fun. We’re trying to make the most of it. We have two kids so it’s not very often we go away like this so it’s nice to spend time together.”

The 33-year-old made the turn at level par but exploded into life on the back nine, carding four birdies without a blemish to move clear of Helligkilde, who is eyeing his third win of the year after triumphs at the Swiss Challenge and the Vierumäki Finnish Challenge.

Overnight co-leader JC Ritchie posted a level par round of 71 on day three and he sits three strokes behind Kennegard in third place on seven under par, two clear of fellow South African Oliver Bekker, France’s Julien Brun, Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia, Norwegian Espen Kofstad and Germany’s Yannik Paul, who all share fourth place on five under par.

Everything is still to play for ahead of Sunday’s final round of the 2021 Road to Mallorca, with Helligkilde currently projected to leapfrog Gouveia and Santiago Tarrio into top spot on the Rankings, with the Spaniard currently lying in ninth place on four under par after posting a one under par 70 on day three.

The final round of the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by The R&A gets under way at 8:15am local time on Sunday November 7, with Kennegard, Helligkilde and Ritchie comprising the final group at 10:50am.

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