Thursday 24 May 2018

Hoey and McGrane hang tough in Doha

Damien McGrane. Photo: Getty Images
Damien McGrane. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

Michael Hoey and Damien McGrane kept themselves within touching distance at the Qatar Masters, as Ryder Cup aces Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer headed for a cracking shoot-out in Doha.

Garcia and Kaymer, two heroes of Europe's miracle win at Medinah last September, were locked in a four-way tie for the lead on nine-under-par with Aussie Marcus Fraser and Portugal's Ricardo Santos entering today's third round. The tournament was brought one day forward to fit in with the Muslim weekend. Despite impressive, bogey-free rounds of 67 from Kaymer and Fraser, Garcia shot the round of the day, a faultless 66 as the desert wind rose and already bumpy, unpredictable greens really began to spike up in the afternoon.

Garcia has been putting with renewed confidence since undergoing laser eye surgery and he has seemed well at ease with every facet of his golf this week on his seasonal debut. But those tricky Doha Golf Club greens caught Garcia's playing companion, defending Qatar Masters champion Paul Lawrie, on the hop.

The Scot had a calamitous four-putt double-bogey at 15 then failed to convert a five-footer for birdie at the last as he missed the cut by one.

Still, Garcia enjoyed a couple of days in Lawrie's company, reliving memories of Medinah and Europe's greatest Ryder Cup victory. "We did talk about that week and, obviously, discussed Paul McGinley getting the captaincy," Garcia said.

"I'm delighted Paul got it. My personal choices were either McGinley or Darren Clarke. Darren didn't want to do it yet, so for me it's perfect."

Hoey showed true class with his irons and wedges and putted superbly as he compiled the second-round 69 which eased the Ballymoney man to within four of the lead on five-under-par. Kells man McGrane trailed Hoey by one shot after a steady second-round 72. Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie both made the cut on the mark, one-under, after their 71s. McGinley missed out on four-over after grappling with his putter on those tricky greens.

Elsewhere, Brandt Snedeker found his form once again at Torrey Pines by taking the clubhouse lead midway through the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Snedeker, the defending champion in La Jolla, California, sank seven birdies in a flawless round of 65 to set the pace on seven under.

Qatar Masters, Live, Sky Sports 2, 9.30

farmers Insurance Open, Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0pm

Irish Independent

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