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Michael Hoey moves three shots clear
October 2, 2011

Michael Hoey continued Northern Ireland’s remarkable golfing dominance by storming three strokes clear of the field after the Dunhill Links Championship third round on Saturday.

Graeme McDowell, last year’s U.S. Open winner, made it an Irish one-two with one round to go in the pro-am event.

A third consecutive six-under 66 by Hoey gave the 2001 British Amateur champion a tournament record 54-hole total of 198—18 under par—while McDowell carded a 67.

South African Louis Oosthuizen was third, four shots off the pace, after posting a 69 at St Andrews, scene of his 2010 British Open triumph.

World number one Luke Donald rocketed into contention, a record-equalling 63 at the revamped Old Course hauling him up to a share of fourth place on 203.

Another Northern Irishman is in the title hunt, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy’s 66 having put him alongside Donald and five other players including triple major winner Padraig Harrington (64).

Donald was one of the previous holders of the 54-hole record but it was bettered by a stroke by Hoey whose only blemish in a round containing an eagle and five birdies came at his penultimate hole.

The leader has had to live in the shadows of fellow countrymen McIlroy, McDowell and British Open champion Darren Clarke but now the 32-year-old is heading a world-class field at the Dunhill Links.

Hoey said he knows why he has had only moderate success with wins in the 2009 Portuguese Open and at the Madeira Islands Open in May.

“I’ve probably been just too hard on myself,” he told reporters. “Trying to relax is obviously what I need to do and I’ve found this week that I can do that.

“I’m hoping I can do so all the way now.”

McDowell, returning to form after a lengthy spell in the doldrums, is not sure what to expect from playing partner Hoey in the final round.

“Michael has never really kicked on but he was always a great striker of the ball and ice-cold under pressure,” said McDowell.

“I haven’t played with him for some time and I’d love to see what he’s like under the gun tomorrow.”

McIlroy is a former clubmate of Hoey’s and said he was not surprised to see him finally show his potential.

“Michael is a supremely talented player and I think it’s only been a mental thing that’s stopped him achieving more,” said the world number three.

“I practised with him when I was 10 or 11 and we all looked up to him.”

World number two Lee Westwood was seven shots off the lead after a 68. Clarke was a casualty of the third-round cut, as was world number five Dustin Johnson of the U.S.


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