Another rising Northern Irish star

Golfer Michael Hoey is inside the top 15 in Race to Dubai and in contention for a Ryder Cup place after good form.

     Hoey is one of a number of Northern Irish players who compete on the European Tour [GALLO/GETTY]

    Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey, who had been nine shots off the pace after the first round, won his fourth European Tour title on Sunday with a three-shot victory at the Trophee Hassan.

    Hoey, 33, carded a final round 65 to finish on a 17 under par 271, three better than Ireland's Damien McGrane who had led at the end of the third round completed earlier Sunday.

    A winner on Tour in 2011, Hoey's form has improved over the last year and he will now be looking to emulate other Northern Ireland golfing legends - Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. Northern Ireland has long been known for producing many of the world's top golfers, contributing more major champions in the modern era than any other European country.  

    In Morocco, Wales's Jamie Donaldson, yet to win in nearly 250 European Tour events, went to the turn in 28 and looked on course for the Tour's first 59.

    But he eventually claimed a share of third after a course record 61 gave him a 275.

    Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who had shared the third round lead and needed to win to claim a place in the Masters, hit a disappointing final round 72 for a total 276.

    Hoey, who defeated celebrated compatriot McIlroy to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year, is now inside the top 15 on The Race to Dubai and back in the hunt for a Ryder Cup debut later this year.

    Asked about the Ryder Cup, the former British amateur champion said: "I've not really been thinking about it, but I'm obviously in contention."

    Manassero's disappointing final round was good news for Ernie Els.

    It meant the South African, joint third with a round to go in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida, could make the top 50 and qualify for the Masters by finishing third rather than second.

    SOURCE: AFP


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