Michael Hoey wins Dunhill Links

Michael Hoey held off compatriots Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to win the Dunhill Links Championship as Northern Irish players continued their amazing run of success.

Michael Hoey

Hoey, who began the week ranked 271st in the world, carded a final round of 68 at St Andrews for a 22-under-par total of 266 to claim his second European Tour title of the season and the first prize of £515,000.

McIlroy finished two shots behind after a closing 65, with the man he succeeded as US Open champion, Graeme McDowell, sharing third alongside Scotland's George Murray a further two strokes back.

Hoey, 32, began the final round three ahead of McDowell and five clear of McIlroy, only for McIlroy to card four birdies and an eagle in a brilliant front nine of 30 to move into the lead.

The US Open champion birdied the second and then holed his second shot to the par-four third for an eagle two, his approach pitching past the flag but spinning back into the hole.

Further birdies at the sixth, seventh and ninth took McIlroy top of the leaderboard before Hoey hit back from his second bogey of the day on the seventh with birdies at the eighth and ninth to draw level.

McIlroy pulled ahead again after a superb tee-shot on the par-three 11th finished just two feet from the hole, but that surprisingly proved to be the 22-year-old's last birdie of the day.The only famous Ulsterman absent from the final day was Open champion Darren Clarke, who missed the cut on Saturday.

"It hasn't sunk in yet and it won't for a while," Hoey admitted.

"It's taken a long time but I supposed in a weird way you enjoy it more because you have struggled through six goes at the qualifying school.

"It's not nice running out of money, being away from home, questioning your swing, and there are points where you wonder 'Do I want to continue with this."

Hoey, 32, began the final round three ahead of McDowell and five clear of McIlroy, only for McIlroy to card four birdies and an eagle in a brilliant front nine of 30 to move into the lead.

The US Open champion birdied the second and then holed his second shot to the par-four third for an eagle two, his approach pitching past the flag but spinning back into the hole.

Further birdies at the sixth, seventh and ninth took McIlroy top of the leaderboard before Hoey hit back from his second bogey of the day on the seventh with birdies at the eighth and ninth to draw level.

McIlroy pulled ahead again after a superb tee-shot on the par-three 11th finished just two feet from the hole, but that surprisingly proved to be the 22-year-old's last birdie of the day.

Hoey missed from four feet for birdie on the 14th after hitting two drivers to the front of the green - "I felt I was throwing this away at that stage," he admitted - but quickly put that disappointment behind him with birdies on the next two holes from close range to take a lead he would not relinquish.

"Playing with Graeme (McDowell), he's such a battler and wanted to win himself, but he said to me a couple of times on the green 'Knock it in' and fortunately at the end I was able to put a bit of fight in myself," Hoey added.

"I knew I had to hit two of the best shots of my life into 16 and 17 and I was really pleased I was able to produce those."

McIlroy admitted he was disappointed not to have secured his third European Tour title, the 22-year-old playing the first 11 holes in seven-under-par but then failing to pick up another birdie.

Even the continued success of Northern Irish players failed to comfort McIlroy, who said: "Yeah it's great to see but to me, I don't care who wins now because I'm not.

"I've been very consistent, which is a good thing, but I want to get wins and that's the most important thing. It's good to be one, two, three and see all of us boys up there, I'm just obviously disappointed that it wasn't me lifting the trophy.

"I'm sure it will be a long flight to Korea in the morning thinking about it."

Murray, from nearby Anstruther, started the week in 183rd place on the money list with total earnings of £50,000, but pocketed more than three times that amount (£174,104) for his share of third place.

And the 28-year-old admitted some of that cash would be spent on a few drinks in celebration.

"I've got a flight at noon tomorrow to Madrid for the next tournament but I think I could struggle to make that," he said.

"I must admit, when I stood on the first tee and they announced I was playing with world number one Luke Donald, I thought 'Oh no, that's me, three rounds just gone to gravy'. But I managed to get it around pretty good despite being nervous the whole way round."

As for Donald, he had to settle for a share of ninth after a closing 70, with his lead over McIlroy at the top of the Race to Dubai cut to £1.13million.

Collated final round scores & totals in the European Tour Alfred Dunhill Links Championship Old Course St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, Fife, Scotland

(Gbr & Irl unless stated, par 72):

266 Michael Hoey 66 66 66 68

268 Rory McIlroy 70 67 66 65

270 George Murray 70 66 67 67, Graeme McDowell 67 67 67 69

271 Marc Warren 67 67 70 67, Tommy Fleetwood 69 63 71 68, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 66 67 69 69

272 Padraig Harrington 68 71 64 69

273 Peter Hanson (Swe) 68 69 69 67, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 69 69 66 69, Joost Luiten (Ned) 72 68 65 68, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 70 67 69 67, Jamie Donaldson 71 65 70 67, Luke Donald 69 71 63 70, Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 67 67 69 70, Simon Dyson 69 71 63 70

274 James Morrison 67 69 71 67

275 Alex Haindl (Rsa) 72 66 70 67, Steve Webster 68 68 71 68, Matt Haines 71 68 66 70

276 Colin Montgomerie 68 72 66 70, Oliver Wilson 72 69 67 68, Markus Brier (Aut) 66 68 71 71, Rhys Davies 74 69 64 69, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 68 71 71 66, Mark Foster 74 66 67 69

277 Danny Willett 73 65 67 72, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 71 72 65 69, Fredrik Andersson Hed (Swe) 68 68 72 69

278 Martin Wiegele (Aut) 70 69 68 71, Thomas Aiken (Rsa) 73 68 68 69, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 68 67 75 68, Mathias Gronberg (Swe) 71 65 72 70, David Lynn 70 69 71 68, Jason Knutzon (USA) 72 72 66 68, Johan Edfors (Swe) 70 72 66 70, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 66 69 72 71, Lee Westwood 68 69 68 73

279 John Daly (USA) 71 67 69 72, Richie Ramsay 72 66 71 70, Alexander Noren (Swe) 69 72 70 68, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 70 70 70 69, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 73 67 69 70, Gregory Havret (Fra) 67 71 70 71

280 James Byrne 67 71 72 70, Peter Lawrie 70 67 73 70, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 73 71 67 69, Romain Wattel (Fra) 68 68 72 72, Paul Lawrie 71 68 69 72, Shane Lowry 68 69 72 71, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 74 66 71 69, Tano Goya (Arg) 69 67 72 72

281 Brett Rumford (Aus) 73 65 71 72, Ernie Els (Rsa) 72 69 70 70, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 71 71 68 71, Alejandro Canizares (Spa) 71 67 71 72, Matthew Griffin (Aus) 72 70 68 71

282 David Horsey 69 68 71 74, Bronson La Cassie (Aus) 72 71 68 71, Rafael Echenique (Arg) 71 73 66 72, Marcus Fraser (Aus) 77 66 68 71, Pablo Larrazabal (Spa) 71 66 72 73, Simon Khan 70 70 68 74

284 Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (Fra) 73 66 72 73, Christian Nilsson (Swe) 76 71 64 73, Ross Fisher 72 69 70 73, Sandy Lyle 69 70 72 73

285 Anthony Kang (USA) 73 68 70 74, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 72 72 67 74

287 Tom Lewis 68 69 72 78



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