MOSCOW – Michael Hoey shot a 2-under 70 to win the M2M Russian Open by four strokes Sunday for his fifth European Tour title.
The Northern Irishman, who held a five-shot lead overnight, had three birdies. He finished at 16-under 272 at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club.
Alexandre Kaleka (68) of France and Matthew Nixon (69) of England tied for second.
Hoey hadn't finished better than 25th this season on the European Tour and credited solid putting for the win.
“I have absolutely loved the golf course this week,” said Hoey. “It is a great Nicklaus design and one of the best we will play on tour for the whole year. The greens are just so pure and when you have surfaces like that to putt on then you can make a lot of putts.
“The putting was the key for me this week. I have been working hard on that a lot recently and the improvement is really showing because I making a lot of birdies,” he added. “That is the main difference at this level – you have to be able to make a lot of putts because the standard is so high these days that it usually comes down to who makes the most putts.”
Hoey, who had missed seven of his last 10 cuts coming, began his final round with six consecutive pars, but birdies at the seventh and eighth saw him advance to 16 under par and turn five clear. His only dropped shot of the day came at the 12th, and last year’s winner Kaleka and Denmark’s J.B. Hansen closed the gap to two before Hoey birdied the 17th, with both his nearest challengers dropping shots on the last.
“It was tough for me today because when you have a five-shot lead your natural instinct is to defend the lead,” added Hoey. “I was trying to be more aggressive because that is usually the best form of defense, but it is tough in the final round when you know you are so far ahead.”
Kaleka, who captured this title last year when it was part of the second-tier European Challenge Tour schedule, had five birdies before bogeying the 18th for a 68, while Nixon came home in 33 for a 69.
Hansen finished alone in fourth after dropping two shots on the 18th for a 68, with China’s Liang Wen-chong, France’s Gregory Havret and Englishmen James Morrison and Mark Foster a shot further back on 10 under.