Michael Hoey shook off the effects of a stomach bug to clinch his best finish since last season’s Alfred Dunhill Championship victory and boost his Ryder Cup hopes at the 54-hole Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
The Ulster player closed with a 68 in Doha to finish tied for 12th behind 43-year old Scot Paul Lawrie, who returned to the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2003 after an immaculate 65 gave him a four-shot win over Australian Jason Day (65) and Swede Peter Hanson (67).
Hoey was happy just to post a pair of 71’s and make the cut on Saturday after suffering from tummy trouble earlier in the week. And while he was still less than 100 percent fit on Sunday, he was pleased with his performance and keeping his fingers crossed that he can take his good form into next week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
Six strokes behind Lawrie starting the day, the former British Amateur champion made a brilliant start with birdies at the first two holes.
Three birdies in succession from the ninth put him inside the top five on seven under par but while bogeyed the 14th and 17th, he got one of those shots back at the par-five 18th to card a 68 and finish on six under - nine strokes behind the champion.
Hoey also earned a cheque for €27,542 to move up to ninth place in the European Points List, just €280,513 behind fifth ranked Alvaro Quiros.
Graeme McDowell is just 20,118 ahead of Hoey in eighth after he shot a 70 to finish tied for 59th with Peter Lawrie (71) on one under par.
McDowell was level for the day with three holes to play after mixing bogeys at the seventh and 14th with birdies at the ninth and 12th. But he birdied the 16th and 18th to inish the week in red figures.
Lawrie, who has returned to the conventional putter after using the belly version in South Africa earlier this season, birdied the par five 18th for a 71 to join McDowell on one under.
Damien McGrane survived the cut thanks to a tremendous second round 67. But he had to settle for final round 73 and a share of 73rd place on two over.
Eventual champion Lawrie, known as “Chippy” all his career, chipped in twice during a brilliant closing 65 and beat Australian Jason Day and Swede Peter Hanson by four.
Less than a year ago the 1999 Open Champion was 272nd in the Official World Golf Ranking. Now he is part of golf’s elite group again.
The victory guarantees him a place in the 64-man World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play in Arizona later this month and the 24-man Volvo World Match Play in Spain in May.
He is on course to win a second Ryder Cup cap 13 years after his first, and if he can stay in the top 50 for another seven weeks he will make a return to The Masters Tournament at Augusta National in April after an eight-year gap.
This was Lawrie’s first success since his long-time coach Adam Hunter died of leukaemia in October and Lawrie was close to tears when reminded of that afterwards.
“I don’t think I can play much better than that,” he said after finishing with a 15 under par total in an event cut to 54 holes because of Friday’s strong winds.
“I’ve been playing well for a long, long time, but it’s just nice to come out one ahead and shoot seven under.”
It was the joint lowest round of the day.
He added: “When you’ve got a chance to win a tournament you don’t sleep as well the night before and things go racing through your mind. You’ve got to get back to basics and I did that. I hit some nice shots coming in.”
Also reminded that his 1999 victory in the tournament was followed five months later by lifting The Claret Jug at Carnoustie Lawrie said: “Now wouldn’t that be nice to get that again?”
And as for the Ryder Cup he added: “I’ve been trying to keep that to the back of my mind. If I keep playing as I am I will get in, there’s no question, but there’s a long way to go and I know as well as anyone that there are a lot of good players.”
Fourth was 45 year old American John Daly. Down at 543rd in the Official World Golf Rankings at the start of the week, it was the former Open Champion’s best display since he was second in the 2009 BMW Italian Open.
Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, third and fourth on the rankings, finished 12th and ninth respectively, Westwood sharing his position with José María Olazábal on The Ryder Cup captain’s 46th birthday.