Hoey holds off McIlroy to clinch Dunhill title
Northern Irishman Michael Hoey held off compatriot and world No 3 Rory mcilroy to claim the Dunhill Links Championship title on Sunday.
Three birdies in the last four holes at the home of golf for a closing 68 and a 22-under-par total of 266 earned Hoey a two-shot victory over the US Open champion, with Graeme McDowell completing a Northern Irish one two three.
"I knew I had to hit the three best shots of my career over the last three holes and I did," a delighted Hoey told reporters.
Hoey needed a battling comeback as McIlroy turned on the sort of display that won him the US Open at Congressional in June, producing a spectacular final round 65.
McIlroy began the day five strokes adrift of Hoey but his first nine holes to six-under 30, including an eagle-two with a 90-yard pitch-in on the third, took him past the overnight leader.
Hoey trailed McIlroy right up the to the 15th, due to missed birdie putts of four and three feet on the 11th and 14th but the lesser-known Ulsterman refused to bow.
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When Hoey speared in a stunning approach to less than a foot on the 16th he moved back to the top of the leaderboard and a birdie on the last extended his victory margin.
It was by far the 2001 British Amateur champion's best success of three European Tour titles, worth $800 000, as the 32-year-old at last realised his potential after many years in the doldrums, including six visits to qualifying school.
"There have been points when I have asked myself do I want to continue because it's not nice when you're running out of money," Hoey said. "This has now opened doors to tournaments like world golf championships, events I'd only watched on TV."
McIlroy has described Hoey as a player with "supreme talent" and recognised his worth in the final round.
"I didn't quite get the job done but Michael played fantastic golf and showed just what he's capable of," he said.
"It's nice to be second continue my good run, and it gives me a few more world ranking points to get me a little close to Luke (Donald). But at the end of the day I want to win."
McDowell, last year's US Open champion, closed with a 69 to finish four strokes behind Hoey alongside Scot George Murray. It was the first time Northern Ireland has enjoyed a one two three finish on the European Tour.
World No 1 Donald (70) ensured McIlroy would not close the gap on him too much in Europe's money list or the world rankings by finishing tied ninth.
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 - Thomas Aiken (RSA) 73-68-68-69, Martin Kaymer (GER) 68-67-75-68, Lee Westwood 68-69-68-73
279 - John Daly (USA) 71-67-69-72, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 70-70-70-69
280 - Paul Lawrie 71-68-69-72
281 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 73-65-71-72, Ernie Els (RSA) 72-69-70-70, Matthew Griffin (AUS) 72-70-68-71
282 - Bronson La Cassie (AUS) 72-71-68-71, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 77-66-68-71
284 - Sandy Lyle 69-70-72-73
287 - Tom Lewis 68-69-72-78
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
Report Day 3