Michael Hoey may not have cracked the world’s top 100 but he will still get to tee it up in next week’s US PGA at Kiawah Island.
The 33-year old world No 105 will join Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke for the major dubbed “Glory’s Last Shot” after receiving an exemption from the PGA of America on Monday evening.
“Really excited, got word yesterday that I get to play in the US PGA next week,” Hoey said on Twitter. “Soooo cool!”
Thanks to his sensational Dunhill Links wins last season, the four-time European Tour winner will make his debut in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club’s South Course in Akron this week before heading for South Carolina.
He’ll be hoping that his first US major as a professional will be better than his debut on this side of the pond - a dismal missed cut in the Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes earlier this month.
So disillusioned was the Shandon Park man with his game that he parted company with long-time caddie Owen Craig afterwards.
Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, was one of the first arrivals in a soft Firestone, playing the front nine on Monday, according to Ryan Lewis in the Akron Beacon Journal.
Stung by some poor performances recently, the world No 3 worked with Dave Stockton on his short game before hitting the course in search of some form. He told the local paper:
“I haven’t played great but I’m working on some really good things and I’ve seen some good signs in practice,” he said. “It’s about taking it from practice onto the course, that’s the difficult part. The more I play and the most holes I get and the more tournaments I play in, hopefully it’ll just keep coming along.”
McIlroy played the front nine on Monday. Considering the Bridgestone Invitational is usually played in the dead heat of late July or early August, the rainstorms of the past week have made the course a bit slower than in past years.
“It’s good, pretty soft,” he said. “As soft as I’ve ever seen it, but obviously, it’ll get a little firmer once there’s not as much rain.”
Graeme McDowell was not expected to arrive in Akron until Monday night following a lightning reconnaisance trip to Kiawah Island, where Tiger Woods and Adam Scott were also practising yesterday.