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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 18:43 UK

Hoey clinches maiden Tour triumph

FINAL LEADERBOARD: (GB & Ire unless stated)
-7 M Hoey, G Fernandez-Castano (Esp) -6 F Molinari (Ita)
-5 P Broadhurst, J Donaldson, M Lundberg (Swe)
-4 G Bourdy (Fra), A Forsyth, P Lawrie, D Lynn, S Webster

Michael Hoey
Hoey was one of only two golfers to shoot as low as 66 on Sunday

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey, the former British amateur champion, won his first European Tour event with victory in a play-off in Portugal.

He beat Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano at the third play-off hole to win the Estoril Portuguese Open title at Oitavos Dunes in Cascais.

Hoey began the day five shots off the lead but carded a joint best-of-the-day round of 66 in windy conditions.

Reigning British Masters champion Fernandez-Castano had a 67.

In third place, one shot back, was Italian Francesco Molinari, but overnight leader Paul Broadhurst shot 73 and fell back into a tie for fourth with Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Swede Mikael Lundberg.

Thirty-year-old Hoey's win earns him a two-year Tour exemption.

The world number 277 from Belfast had tied with British Masters champion Fernandez-Castano on the seven-under-par mark of 277.

I did not really think about winning going out, but I was lucky - I got all the breaks

Michael Hoey

Hoey had missed an eight-footer on the last which would have given him victory without a play-off.

"I did not really think about winning going out, but I was lucky - I got all the breaks," said 30-year-old Hoey.

"I could not believe I was in the play-off, let alone getting up and down, up and down, up and down.

"It's a life-changing moment, it's amazing really. If I can keep this mentality going I can really move forward.

"It's not going to sink in yet. It's a bit of a dream that I will cherish for a long time, and I'd just like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years."

The play-off began with two more trips down the 18th. Both players missed the green first time, but Fernandez-Castano holed from eight feet and Hoey from four.

Next time the Spaniard almost converted a 35-foot birdie attempt and Hoey, short of the green once more, sank a five-footer to stay alive.

When they switched to the 17th they missed the green again. This time, however, Fernandez-Castano missed from 12 feet and Hoey seized his chance.


Hoey was British amateur champion in 2001 and played with Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Nick Dougherty in the Walker Cup later the same year.

In 2002 he was just one shot away from becoming the first British amateur to make the cut in The Masters since Peter McEvoy in 1978.

However, he has struggled to get on the European Tour and was back at the qualifying school for the sixth time last November.

Finally coming through that gave him confidence, as did a sixth-place finish in Madeira two weeks ago. But victory still came as a shock.

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see also
Hoey's waiting game pays off
06 Apr 09 |  Golf

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