Michael Hoey’s hopes of defending next week’s Portugal Open have been laid low by a virus.

The Ulster star, 31, grabbed his maiden title in Estoril 12 months ago and was looking forward to getting back.

But after picking up a virus in Asia last year, he’s been struggling with his game and his fitness.

His agent Conor Ridge said: “Michael’s been told by his doctor to take a rest but he will be back for the BMW International in Munich at the end of June.”

Hoey has had a tough time since he finally made his European Tour breakthrough after seven years in the pro ranks.

Two weeks after beating Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño in a play-off in Portugal, he disqualified himself from the 3 Irish Open after realising mid-way through his second round that he had played with 15 clubs in his bag in day one at Baltray.

A week later, he fell ill and was forced to withdraw from the BMW PGA at Wentworth.

Last month, he retired during the Italian Open and then withdrew after the first round at Wentworth.