Hoey king for the day in Morocco

Michael Hoey put his rivals to the sword, including fellow Irishman Damien McGrane, in being presented with a ceremonial dagger as his prize for winning the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco.

Crown Prince Moulay Rachid presented Hoey with a similar dagger as presented to Pádraig Harrington four years ago.

Hoey brilliantly set up a fourth Tour success and his third in less than a year with a pair of closing 65s to win by three strokes from McGrane with a 17-under par tally on the Golf du Palais Royal course owned by the King of Morocco.

“This golf course is just great and I always want to do well when we are playing a really great course and I have been lucky to win on some of the best, especially at the Dunhill,” said Hoey.

“So playing great courses inspires me and that certainly happened here over the last three rounds.”

In contrast to Hoey, who ended his third round on Saturday, McGrane had to play the eight holes of his third round early on Sunday and then a closing 18.

And while still tied for the lead with a round to play, the Kells golfer tired towards the end in a round of 70 to grab second place at 14 under par.

“If I couldn’t win the title then I’m pleased another Irishman won,” said McGrane.

Shane Lowry carded a last-round 68 to share 17th place on eight under par. And Mark Murphy left Agadir terribly disappointed after doubling the last in a score of 76 to end in a tie for 52nd place on one under par.

* Tiger Woods is a winner on the PGA Tour again — and back up to sixth in the world with The Masters his next start.

After 30 months without an official Tour victory, Woods, on 13 under, had five shots to spare over Ireland’s Graeme McDowell to claim his seventh Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

lFrance claimed the European Nations Cup by five shots as Ireland yielded first place on the final day to finish fifth at Sotogrande in Spain.

Not only that, but Mourne’s Reeve Whitson, who was bidding to be the tournament’s top player, slipped from first to fifth after carding his worst round of the event. His 76 was dropped from the Irish total on the last day, with team-mates Alan Dunbar (73), Niall Gorey (75) and Dermot McElroy (75) contributing to Ireland’s overall score of 881.

A play-off was needed to determine the individual champion after Dutchman Robin Kind, Norway’s Kristoffer Ventura and Spaniard Jon Rahm Rodriguez all ended the competition on 286. Kind clinched victory by chipping in for birdie on the second extra hole.

A brilliant 67 by Edouard Espana helped France to the team title with the Dutch quartet second and the host nation third.

* Gary O’Flaherty, Cork Golf Club, shaded Paul O’Kane, Moyola GC, by a shot in the 54-hole Lee Valley Senior Scratch. O’Flaherty carded a final round two-under-par 70, the same as his second round.

Third man home was Alan Thomas of Tramore.

A potential star of the future, 15-year-old Greg O’Mahony of the host club played golf beyond his years to take the nett prize with 225.


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