Northern Irishman Michael Hoey saw off competition from golf’s elite players to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in Scotland.
The 32 year-old from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim finished on 22-under par after four days between the courses Carnoustie, Kingsbarn and St Andrews before finishing on the famous latter course to see off the challenge of his compatriot Rory McIlroy.
Hoey sat atop the leaderboard for the three previous days, tied for 1st after Saturday, but McIlroy’s final day charge put him in contention for the championship and the pair seemed to be going in opposite directions after McIlroy got an eagle on the 3rd and Hoey bogeyed the same hole.
Hoey followed that bogey on the 3rd with another bogey on the 7th hole, while McIlroy carded four birdies along with his eagle to cut Hoey’s five-shot lead and leap frog him into first place.
It didn’t look like it would be Hoey’s day when he spurned the chance for a birdie on the par-five 14th hole but he birdied three out of his next four holes to card a 68 for the round, which left him two shots clear of McIlroy, whose birdies seemed to dry up on the back nine.
This win is Hoey’s third tour win but it’s by far his most illustrious victory with the upper echelons of the European tour all taking part in the play in Scotland, including world number one Luke Donald, the US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, British Open champion Darren Clarke and US Open champion McIlroy.
With Hoey and McIlroy at 1st and 2nd by the end of day four, Graeme McDowell made it an Ulster top three as he tied for 3rd with Scotland’s George Murray on 18-under for the championship.
Padraig Harrington was up amongst the top runners for his highest finish this year as he ended his tournament on 15-under par in 8th place.
The Dubliners new swing seemed to be serving him well in Scotland, especially on Saturday when he shot a 64 to put him in with a chance of placing high on the leaderboard by the end of play on Sunday.
Shane Lowry and Peter Lawrie tied for 45th with the latter’s Scottish namesake Paul Lawrie, amongst others, with an overall score of 8-under.
Damien McGrane and Paul McGinley didn’t make the cut for the final day at St Andrews as they finished level par and 3-over respectively.
The rest of the Northern Irishmen, Darren Clarke and Paul Cutler also missed the cut as the Open Championship winner Clarke finished on 1-over and his 22 year-old fellow countryman Cutler, finished three places higher on 2-under.