Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Hoey on song with his mentor

Northern Ireland Open Tournament Ambassador Michael Hoey

Michael Hoey needed to feel more upbeat — so he went to Andy Duncan, who used to play drums with Simple Minds.

Belfast golfer Hoey, 30, is blessed with a glorious golf game but has been held back by a chronic lack of confidence.

Which led him to former rock musician Duncan, now a big noise among golf's mind-gurus.

Hoey's career is festooned with milestones.

He won the British Amateur in 2001; shared an unforgettable Walker Cup victory over the US with Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Nick Dougherty at Sea Island later that year and was successful three times on the Challenge Tour.

Yet even when he hit the big time at last April's Portuguese Open, clinching his maiden European Tour win in sudden death, it took months for Hoey to believe he'd become a member of Europe's league of champions.

“I just didn't see myself as a winner on Tour,” Hoey explained.

“When you're growing up, you see guys winning tournaments on TV and you put them on pedestals. Obviously they were great players.

“Yet I'd been struggling for a while, so I asked myself 'have I just won a tournament here? This is weird'.”

The penny only dropped in mid-summer when Hoey saw video re-runs from Estoril.

“There I was, holing a couple of putts. I watched it a few times and thought ‘Jeez that was quite good actually'.

“I've never given myself enough credit for the stuff I've done,” he revealed.

“It's a bad habit. You think it's macho being hard on yourself but that's just rubbish.

“I decided to work with someone who'd help me treat myself a bit better. Gary Murphy recommended Andy Duncan, so I went to him last month and I'm delighted I did.

“Andy says everything in life is about familiarity.

“Guys like Rory McIlroy have been positive all their life so they find it easy. Yet it's just as easy to be negative if that's what you've always done.

“I'm trying to turn it the opposite way and be positive.”

Making the cut for the first time in four successive events this season delighted Hoey in his quest for added consistency.

He desperately wants to retain his playing rights on the Tour this year, either by qualifying via the money list or adding a second tournament win.

Unlucky not to play at the weekend in Abu Dhabi, missing out by just a couple of shots, Hoey's confidence received a timely boost in the run-up to tomorrow's Qatar Masters when he won a €4,000 Rolex watch for a hole-in-one at the star-studded Al Naboodah International Pro-Am at Dubai Creek.

With Duncan's help, it might not be long before this Belfast boy wins again.

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