Ireland will have at least three players in the mix for the European Tour Golfer of the Year Award after Michael Hoey was named the 2011 Race to Dubai Golfer of the Month for September.
Hoey joins Rory McIlroy (June) and Darren Clarke (July) on an impressive list of winners that also features Martin Kaymer (January), Luke Donald (February and May), Paul Lawrie (March), Charl Schwartzel (April) and Thomas Björn (August).
The 32-year old Belfast man held his nerve under intense pressure at the US$5million Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland to capture his second European Tour title of the season – and the third of his career – at the expense of his illustrious compatriots Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who finished second and tied third respectively.
The €588,148 winner’s cheque moved Hoey to 15th place in The Race to Dubai, and having now guaranteed his place in the season-ending Dubai World Championship presented by DP World, he is in line to claim a share of the US$7.5million Bonus Pool at the end of the season.
Hoey said: “To be named The European Tour Golfer of the Month for September is a true honour for me. My victory at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was the biggest week of my career, and for this to be acknowledged by The European Tour amongst so many other worthy candidates is a real privilege.
“This is the first time I have received a Golfer of the Month award, and hopefully my performance in Scotland can spur me on to greater things and more of these awards in the future.”
Derek Lawrenson, golf correspondent for the Daily Mail and a member of the judging panel which comprised representatives of the Association of Golf Writers in addition to commentators from radio and television, said: “As ever these days, this was an amazingly difficult decision. Thomas Björn’s second victory in succession was a marvellous feat, as was Simon Dyson’s second tournament win in as many months.
“However, Michael Hoey’s victory in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship wins this month’s award for the manner in which he overcame years of adversity to claim his prize; the fact that he did it against a world-class field, holding off no less than five Major Champions down the stretch; and for the golf he played down the stretch, which was startlingly good.”
Björn was given serious consideration after following up his win at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles at the end of August with victory at the Omega European Masters at the beginning of September.
Similarly, Dyson’s victory at the KLM Open, combined with the role he played in Great Britain and Ireland retaining the Vivendi Seve Trophy, made the Englishman a genuine contender for the award, along with his compatriot Kenneth Ferrie, who won the Austrian GolfOpen presented by Lyoness.
Hoey will now, with his fellow award winners, be considered for The 2011 Race to Dubai European Tour Golfer of the Year Award, which was won jointly by Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell in 2010.