Hoey to leave swing alone in bid to finally find some consistency
MICHAEL HOEY reckons he knows the answer to one of the most perplexing riddles in golf.
For such a gifted performer, the 34-year-old Ulsterman's career record on tour is an enigma.
He's had just eight top-10 finishes in 196 European Tour appearances over the past 13 years ... but five of those were victories!
The undoubted highlight was Hoey's back-nine eclipse of Major Champions and Ryder Cup heroes Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on Sunday at St Andrews as he took the 2011 Dunhill Links Championship.
The Ballymoney native also has four Challenge Tour successes to his credit in a career which has yielded just over €3m in prizemoney.
Hoey played his way into the elite 36-man field at this week's Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club by winning last July's Russian Open -- but he missed the cut more times (12) than he made it (11) in yet another wildly inconsistent season.
"I know I've been incredibly inconsistent," Hoey agrees.
"My new year's resolution is not to change my swing in 2014," he explains. "I'd gone into last year with the same intention, but I didn't understand it and therefore was trying a lot of stuff on the range. I'd a different swing thought on almost every shot and that's ridiculous.
"I've got to the stage now where I always go the range and practice the same things. It's probably the first time I have understood what I've done," added Hoey.
He's been busy on the range in Durban this week as he puts the finishing touches to a winter of intensive work, including five weeks in Dubai, before returning home with wife Beverley and baby daughter Erin for the festive season.
"If I don't change the swing this year, I'm putting really well so I've got a chance to be consistent," he explained. "I'd love to have more top-10s and top-20s than wins because, when you're consistent, you actually know where you are."
Hoey and Simon Thornton, who completed his maiden Tour success in St Omer last June, both earned their place at the Volvo with last year's victories, while Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke tee it up as winners of 10-plus tournaments on the circuit.
Ireland's Kevin Phelan (23), who went straight from last September's Walker Cup to Q-School and graduated with his European Tour card, has been given a sponsor's invite to next week's Abu Dhabi Championship.
Phelan will rub shoulders with Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in Abu Dhabi. Opportunities to play on the Tour's prestigious Middle East Swing are scarce for players fresh out of Q-School, so this is a super boost for the Waterford prospect.