Friday 24 March 2017

Hoey counts cost of final-hole calamity

William S Callahan

Michael Hoey looks on as his caddie looks up a tree for a lost ball on the 18th fairway
Michael Hoey looks on as his caddie looks up a tree for a lost ball on the 18th fairway

MICHAEL HOEY had good reason to send his caddie up a tree looking for his ball in Singapore yesterday.

More than 20,000 of them in fact -- losing his ball on the final hole at the Barclays Singapore Open led to a closing double-bogey seven for the Ulsterman and cost him a share of 13th place with Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.

So instead of banking €62,427 like his fellow Irishmen, Hoey's final-round 74 left him with a share of 23rd on six-under and a cheque for €41,738, meaning that final-hole hiccup cost him €20,869.

Already reduced to 54 holes by violent thunderstorms on Friday, the Singapore Open came to a bizarre conclusion when the two-way play-off between Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Asian Tour regular Juvic Pagunsan from the Philippines was twice interrupted by monsoon weather.

Both men were forced off the course for more than an hour after hitting their tee shots on the tie hole, the 18th, the Spaniard's drive landing in a fairway bunker while Pagunsan found the short grass.

Upon their return, both men barely had time to play their lay-ups to this par-five before an even more violent electrical storm and downpour forced play to a conclusion for the day.

They were scheduled to return to complete the sudden-death shootout at 7.30 this morning, Singapore time, setting up a fascinating chip and putt showdown for the €720,876 first prize.

Sweet

Manila native Pagunsan (25) had tied Fernandez-Castano on 14-under by landing a sweet birdie on the final hole of his third-round 67. His 31-year-old opponent then had to show tremendous character to force the tournament into extra-time, sinking a 17-foot putt to save par at the last after dunking his tee shot into the water.

Regardless of the play-off result, four times European Tour-winner Fernandez-Castano and Pagunsan were guaranteed the biggest cheque of their career at Sentosa Golf Club, with €480,579 going to the runner-up.

It means that the Spaniard, who only copperfastened his Tour card for 2012 with his recent second place behind Sergio Garcia at the Castello Masters, has now capped a fraught season by clinching his place in the 60-man field at next month's Dubai World Championship.

McDowell recovered sufficiently from a debilitating stomach bug to post a pleasing final round of five-under-par 66, while Lowry's closing 68 was a satisfying result for the Clara man in punishing heat and humidity.

Conditions took their toll on Peter Lawrie, who finished 75th with a closing 76, and Paul Cutler, whose delight with the second-round 64, which on Saturday saw him make the cut for the first time in his fourth event as a professional, was tempered by a final-round 79.

As he heads for this week's defence of his Johor Open title across the border in Malaysia, Padraig Harrington's confidence can't have been helped by the implosion of the Dubliner's usually reliable short game as he slumped to his seventh missed-cut of the season.

Irish Independent

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