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Hoey Hangs on to Win in Scotland
Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland fended off countrymen and the past two U.S. Open champions Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the final round on the Old Course at St. Andrews to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The victory was the 32-year-old's second on the European Tour this year.
Hoey, who began the final round with a three-shot edge over McDowell, carded a 4-under 68 to finish at 22-under 266 in the event, which was also played at Kingsbarns and Carnoustie in the first three rounds. He ended up two strokes better than McIlroy; the 2011 U.S. Open champion closed with a 7-under 65 for a 268 total.
McDowell had a 69 Sunday to end up tied for fourth with George Murray (67) at 270. For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2011/tournamentid=2011071/leaderboard/index.html.
"It hasn't sunk in yet and it won't for a while," Hoey said about beating such luminaries. "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?' "
McIlroy caught and passed Hoey with a front-nine 30. But after playing the first 11 holes in 7-under par McIlroy couldn't muster any more magic, carding pars the rest of the way.
McIlroy was glad that another Ulsterman won, but disappointed he wasn't able to secure his third European Tour title. "Yeah it's great to see but to me, I don't care who wins now because I'm not," he said.
"I had it going early on and I birdied the 11th to get to 20-under par. I thought I had a couple of decent chances coming with the 12th, 14th and 18th, but I didn't capitalize. It was still a very good round of golf and considering that I was 3-over-par after 11 holes in this tournament, I've come back and played some really good golf.
"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."
No. 1-ranked Luke Donald had a 70 to finish tied for ninth at 15-under 273 with seven others. He entered the Dunhill Links Championship in good position to become the first player ever to top the earnings on both the European and PGA tours. On Thursday, he held a 1,600,000-euro lead over McIlroy in the Race to Dubai, the European Tour's season-long money list. His finish this week was worth 60,972 euros, enough to maintain his position as the money leader.
After his tie for third finish in last week's Tour Championship, Donald has accrued $5,837,214 in the U.S. to move in front of Webb Simpson, who has a total of $5,768,243.