Ahead of today’s [Thursday] starting Honda Classic, Shane Lowry was joking that he hopes he does not come under the watchful eye of long-time good friend and now DP World Tour referee Michael Hoey.
Hoey, 43, has won eight times in his pro career including five wins on the DP World Tour but is hanging up his clubs for a Golf Rules book.
The Belfast golfer competed in 308 main Tour events capped with his two-shot victory over Rory McIlroy at the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he won €588,000 of his near €4m in career prize money.
“I’ve known ‘Hoe- dog’ for a long time and he’s had a great career, and he’s a very impressive golfer and it’s kind of sad to see him retiring but I wish him all the best in going forward now in this new role,” said Lowry.
“I’m sure I will see him out there and I hope I am not looking for a ruling from him (smiling)”.
Still highly competitive, Hoey was in the hunt to earn DP World Tour promotion via the Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca right up until last season’s Grand Final but despite even proving his retained ability back amongst the main tour stars at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he tied 24th last year, the man from Ballymoney decided the time is now to take on a new challenge.
“When the pandemic started in 2020, I started learning the rules and looking into that as I didn’t really know where the future lay,” Hoey said.
“I missed that whole year but had quite a good year last year and did quite well at the Dunhill Links so I proved to myself I could still play.
“But I’ve just turned 43 and I see so many good young players on the Challenge Tour now, it’s hard to make a living.
“I’ll always miss the thrill of competition but I’ve had two years to think about this and while I enjoyed it last year, you have to make a living out of it too and I’m happy with where I am.”
HONDA IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
- Shane Lowry – 12.34pm (10th tee)
- Padraig Harrington – 4.45pm
- Full scoring HERE