Michael Hoey admits that he’s over his jealousy of superstars Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald.
The Ulster star, 32, grabbed just his second tour win in the Madeira Islands Open on Sunday and confessed he’s ready to do his own thing from now on.
Compared for years with his 2001 Walker Cup winning team mates as he stuggled to make it onto the main tour, Hoey said: “I used watch Graeme or Luke Donald winning events and feel jealous. But I am over that now.
“I don’t compare myself to those guys any more. I am just trying to improve my game and it’s improved a lot in the last year. If I am improving then that’s all that I can do.”
Instead of getting green with envy, Hoey has been counting the green in recent seasons after several years of struggles.
If he makes the cut in the BMW PGA at Wentworth this week he will take his career earnings beyond €1 million. And while that’s a long way behind the €35m that Donald and McDowell have amassed between them, he’s happy with his progress.
Hoey said: “I’ve certainly been tortured in the past but that makes me appreciate playing well. It’s just nice to understand what I am doing and I understand my swing more than I used to.
“Last year I made 19 cuts which was a lot more than any previous year and I felt I was quite solid. Now I just want to keep making steady improvements and contend in the big events and qualify for some majors.”
Hoey made two major appearances as 2001 British Amateur champion but missed the cut in the Open that year and the Masters the following April.
He said: “I really want to play in the Open again. Maybe a win this week would sort everything out!”
He’s also a far happier man these days after his marriage to Beverly at Christmas.
“I feel less… I feel a lot more solid than a few years ago,” he said. “I felt all over the place a few years ago. It happens to a lot of guys playing on the tour. You feel like a nomad.
“For some people that suits them but others want to be a bit more settled. Bev is fantastic. She keeps me on the rails. She puts up with my crap.”
He also attributes his latest success to his coach and his caddie.
“I am working with the South African coach Jamie Gough, who’s worked with James Kingston, Anders Hansen and he’s worked with Charl Schwartzel before as well.
“He’s a really good coach and he’s helped me a lot the last year. I’ve been with him less than a year but he really has helped me understand my swing more than I used to. Also my caddie Owen Craig has been great and he helped by guiding me through the final day in Madeira.”
Hoey does not have to worry about his tour card until the end of next season and can now look forward to a full schedule right through the season.
“I was thinking about the 18 month exemption last (Saturday) night. It’s massive. If I hadn’t won a tournament, I wouldn’t have got into Singapore and all the new events in Asia (at the end of the year) because you need a winner’s category and I look forward to playing all those events this year and again next year.”
Michael Hoey ‘s winning bag
European Tour: Madeira Islands Open
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (8.5 degree; Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Kai’li 60 shaft)
Fairway Wood: Titleist 910F 3-wood (13.5 degree; Mitsubishi Rayon Diamana Kai’li 80 shaft)
Irons (3-PW): Titleist AP2 (True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (54 and 58 degree; True Temper Dynamic Gold shafts)
Putter: Yes! Golf
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x