Michael Hoey roars to Russian Open glory

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Michael Hoey won the Russian Open by four shots to secure his fifth European Tour title and put his success down to his improved putting.

The 34-year-old from Belfast, who was five clear going into the final round, carded a two-under-par 70 near Moscow to finish on 16 under.

Hoey’s advantage was reduced to two shots on the back nine but a birdie at the 17th saw him ease to victory.

Frenchman Alexandre Kaleka and England’s Matthew Nixon were tied second after both firing 68s. JB Hansen’s 68 gave him fourth place on 11 under while Gregory Havret, Mark Foster, Wen-chong Liang and James Morrison were a further shot back.

“It is a great feeling to win and every time you do it you just want more and more,” said Hoey.

Hoey picked up birdies at seven and eight but gave the chasing pack hope after a bogey on the 12th.

The pressure was on as his lead was cut to two but his challengers faded while a birdie at the par-five 17th effectively sealed the victory.

“I have absolutely loved the golf course this week,” Hoey said. “The putting was the key for me. I have been working hard on that a lot recently and the improvement is really showing because I made a lot of birdies.

“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.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that I have won five European Tour titles. It is a great feeling to win and every time you do it you just want more and more.

“It has given me a great boost. I am not the most consistent player in the world but when I get into these positions I usually do okay.”

Hoey started the tournament in 142nd place in the Race to Dubai although his European Tour card was already safe for next year as a result of his victories over recent seasons, including the 2011 Dunhill Links Championship.

It is a first European Tour title for the former British Amateur champion since the Hassan Trophy in March 2012.

Hoey had not finished better than 25th on European Tour so far this season and missed seven of his last 10 cuts coming into the event.

But this has given a him a perfect fillip for the rest of his 2013 campaign - which also includes a return to the Challenge Tour and his home soil of Northern Ireland, on August 29-September 1.

And there's still time for Today's Golfer readers to join him, by entering a competition for the chance to live like a Tour pro and play in Team TG's pro-am Team at the Northern Ireland Open Challenge, presented by Clannah and X-Jet, staged at Galgorm Castle GC in Ballymena, County Antrim.

The prize package, for two people, includes: Two places in a TG pro-am team, Northern Ireland Open Challenge gift bags, two nights B&B accommodation and dinner on one night, plus transfers between the hotel and course. (You need to book your own flights and make your way there to Belfast.)

You have until midnight August 7 to enter. Check out our competitions link on the home page.