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Michael Hoey finds groove despite low expectations

By Phil Casey

Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey was two shots off the lead in the Maybank Malaysian Open after a five-under 67 yesterday.

Hoey said: "A lot of putts went in. I holed a 50-footer on the 13th up the hill. It was good chipping and putting all the way, so I'm really happy.

"It's weird because my grips hadn't set properly and I didn't have a lot of confidence. The grips were moving slightly so I had to hold down the grip. It shows you if you have low expectations you can play well."

Ryder Cup team-mates Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts rediscovered top form to set the pace after their Masters woe.

Both players made light of the long journey, Westwood taking the clubhouse lead with a seven-under-par 65 and Colsaerts just a shot behind.

Meanwhile, Dermot McElroy has shelved plans to turn professional mid-season and has set his sights on breaking his amateur duck when the West of Ireland Amateur Open gets under way at Rosses Point today.

The 19-year-old Ballymena star is tipped to become the next big thing in Irish golf, despite narrowly failing to win his tour card at last year's European Tour Qualifying School.

He's already 61st in the amateur rankings but knows he's going to have to find some form with the putter if he's to avoid another early exit in the West and add an amateur 'Major' to his list of achievements.

Second favourite behind defending champion Rory McNamara to win at Co Sligo, McElroy said: "It's all going to depend on how the putter is working. I've a habit of missing four three-footers a round and that's just giving holes away, so that's going to be key, especially if it's very windy.

"Hopefully this year it will be a bit different for me on the greens but to be honest, my putting's been poor this year.

"After South Africa and the Spanish events, it was really awful. I just couldn't break 33 putts for any round, but I've put in a lot of practice since then and it's coming along.

"I've no idea when I will turn professional, but I don't think it will be this year. I'm going to finish the amateur season. I had thought about going after the British Amateur at Royal Portrush and Portstewart but I think I'd just like to wait."

Beaten in the early rounds in his first four visits to Rosses Point, McElroy's goal is to become a Major winner before joining the paid ranks.

"I just want to win one of the big amateur events, so it'd be nice to win a West," he said.

"I've never managed to get past the third round at the West and I've gifted people holes by missing short putts. But that's all in the past. All I'm thinking about is having a good run here for a change."

Belfast Telegraph


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