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Hoey is keen to shine at NI Open and boost bid for big-stage return

 

By Robert Jones

With less than a week to go before the Galgorm Resort & Spa NI Open, presented by Modest! Golf, gets under way at Galgorm Castle, tournament ambassador Michael Hoey has shown a return to form and is hoping a good week in Ballymena can propel him further up the rankings.

The Ulsterman dropped off the main tour a couple of seasons ago, but the five-time European Tour winner has remained focused and is still eyeing a return.

As the European Challenge Tour moves towards the business end of the season, players are hoping to secure one of the coveted top 15 places that guarantees playing rights on the main European Tour next season.

Hoey is currently 25th, but the 39-year-old has new-found belief.

"Putting has been key. I've got a lot of confidence back with my putter and that feeds through the game. I'm enjoying my game," said Hoey, whose last win came at the 2013 Russian Open on the European Tour.

His confidence bodes well for next week as the quality of greens at Galgorm always come in for special mention by the players, who are glad the NI Open has returned to a traditional 72-hole strokeplay format after a one-off Shootout Sunday.

"It's good to see former NI Open winners such as Ryan Fox and Joakim Lagergren have gone on to feature prominently on the main European Tour," said Hoey.

"The NI Open is always one of the best events of the year. I love being associated with it."

Hoey will take part in Tuesday's NI Open Ambassadors Q&A Evening at the Braid Centre as part of the build-up to the event.

He will be joined by Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill and ex-Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby ace Stephen Ferris.

There are still tickets available, priced at £12 for adults and £10 for under-16s with funds raised on the night helping the Cancer Fund for Children, this year's NI Open official charity.

Tickets for the NI Open and NI Open Pro-Am are free, simply register online at niopen.golf.

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