Hoey captures Hassan II Trophy as Manassero's Masters quest fall short

Michael Hoey at the Hassan II Trophy
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Michael Hoey showed off the ceremonial dagger he received for winning the Hassan II Trophy on Sunday in Morocco.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.

Michael Hoey put himself back into the hunt for a Ryder Cup spot with a three-stroke victory at the Hassan II Trophy on Sunday.

Nine shots behind after his opening 74, the 33-year-old from Northern Ireland grabbed his fourth European Tour victory -- and second of this Ryder Cup campaign -- with two superb closing rounds of 65.

"I've not really been thinking about it, but I'm obviously in contention," said Hoey, a former British Amateur champion, who finished with a 17-under-par total of 271, when asked about the Ryder Cup.

Hoey beat compatriot Rory McIlroy at the Dunhill Links Championship last October, and he pushed another Irishman, Damien McGrane, into second place this time.

McGrane shared the lead with a round to play along with Matteo Manassero. The 18-year-old Italian had to win to have a chance to get into the Masters by moving into the top 50 in the world ranking, but fell into a tie for sixth with a 72.

The 40-year-old McGrane led by three after starting with back-to-back birdies, then found himself two behind when Hoey followed a birdie on the short second with four successive birdies from the fifth.

It was nip and tuck again when he bogeyed the long 10th, and McGrane made par, but three more birdies in four holes from the short 14th settled it.

Not that his 65 was the round of the day. It was not even close, in fact.

Jamie Donaldson, yet to win in nearly 250 European Tour events, shot a course-record 61 to share third place with fellow Welshman Phillip Price and England's Robert Coles. Donaldson covered the back nine first in 28, only one off the Tour record, with two eagles and four birdies, then started for home with another birdie to be 9 under for his first 10 holes.

The circuit's first 59 was a possibility at that point, but he found the water on the long fifth. After a 6 there, though, he added a further birdie on the seventh and at the 394-yard ninth sank his 9-iron approach for a third eagle.

"I forgot about the end result and concentrated on one shot at a time," said Donaldson after tying his career low. "It was a great day."

As it was for Hoey, who had not had a top-10 finish since his victory at St. Andrews nearly six months ago.

"I've worked hard with Jamie Gough. My swing is more consistent and Phil Kenyon has been helping me with my putting," he added.

Manassero's disappointing final round was good news for Ernie Els in Florida.

It meant the South African, tied for third with a round to go in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, could make the world's top 50 and qualify for the Masters by finishing third rather than second.