Quiros ends six-year drought in Sicily; positive for Hoey and Hurley

Quiros ends six-year drought in Sicily; positive for Hoey and Hurley
Alvaro Quiros. Picture: Getty Images

Alvaro Quiros. Picture: Getty Images

Michael Hoey moved up 15 places to 139th in the Race to Dubai and Gary Hurley rose 48 spots to 228th following the Rocco Forte Open – Verdura, Sicily.

The event saw Spain's Alvaro Quiros mark a dramatic return to the European Tour winners’ circle as he defeated South Africa’s Zander Lombard on the second play-off hole to claim his first in over six years and the seventh of his career.

Hoey and Hurley will now be looking to build of solid weeks in Sicily.

Ballymoney man Hoey, 38, tied for 11th at Verdura Golf Club on eight-under par following a closing 72 while Hurley tied for 23rd on six-under after a 73, earning €10,550.

Neither man will be happy with their finishing position but both showed signs that they are not far from hitting form as the meat of the season approaches and they bid for their full playing rights on the European Tour.

As for Quiros, the 34-year-old bounced back from making just five cuts in his previous 20 starts to clinch what a win that could reignite his career.

He looked to be cruising to victory when he made four birdies in the first six holes and opened up a seven-stroke lead at one point.

But four bogeys and a double-bogey opened the door for potential contenders and 22-year-old Lombard fired a three-under par 68 to pile the pressure on playing partner Quiros, who was forced to hole a ten-footer on the last to take it to extra holes.

The Spaniard signed for a two over 73 and joined Lombard on a 14-under-par and after they halved the first play-off hole in pars, a smart two-putt for par was enough to seal the victory for Quiros after Lombard missed a three-footer to end his hopes of a maiden win.

A consolation for the Pretorian came in the shape of qualification for next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, while Li Haotong of China finished in outright third place after holing an albatross at the par five 12th en route to a five under final round 66 and a 13 under total.

Alvaro Quiros

“I'm very happy. Obviously it shouldn't have been like that with a play-off, but in the end, it's a victory, and that's the most important thing. It's been a little bit of a mess today - the game wasn't that bad. Just the last few holes I started to struggle with the wind left to right, and Zander was playing nicely, Pep was playing nice too, and they had chances obviously.

“I didn't have an idea how many shots I was leading by, what I knew on 18 is I have to make a putt to halve with Zander.

“It’s a strange feeling because it's a victory, it means a lot of things. But unfortunately, I didn't really like how I ended the round. It should never have gone that far. But at the same time, I could be talking about finishing second, so I’m happy.

“I’m positive because it means I can go back onto the European Tour and I’m positive because even after the finish that I had, I’ve been able to manage, so there are a lot of good things.

“I knew I had a five shots advantage and that’s a lot of shots, but on a day like this, it’s nothing. I knew I had to play as well as the previous days and keep doing what I’m doing. The most important thing is that I’ve been able to do a good job for the whole week and I’ve been able to go low.

“I have been struggling because I was trying to improve. I changed my swing a little bit technically speaking, and I lost my natural swing. At the end of the day, it’s difficult to stop and come out with a different setup.

“Obviously the lowest point was last season, losing my card for the first time in my career and I had to fight for it. The most important thing for me back then was to recover my game, because I knew that if I could do that after a year on the Challenge Tour I should be able to get my card and come back. 

"Fortunately, it happened earlier, and I’m happy to say I’m hitting the ball better. I know where I am technically and that’s a big improvement.”

Zander Lombard

“I’m very happy with how I kept myself in contention and all the best for Alvaro. He’s a great champion, he’s won in the past, and it’s nice to see him win again. I’m very pleased with this performance going into next week, and hopefully, I can keep this form up.

“It’s a good consolation prize to get into Wentworth. I suppose winning isn’t everything, but I can’t complain, losing in a play-off – it’s anybody’s game with this wind. I think I hit a great putt, but the wind just kept it out, so I’m pleased.

“The main thing I take from this is that I can be in contention and I can win. I just need to trust myself and believe that and hopefully, I can do it a little later. My parents and my girlfriend are happy at home – they were probably stressed and nervous on the couches, but thanks to all my team and this was an awesome week.”

Li Haotong

“My second shot for the albatross was a five iron, I just wanted to get it on the green and two-putt and make an easy birdie. After I hit it I saw some clapping on the green and thought it was probably pretty close or something, and when I walked there I couldn't believe it was in.
“The first bogey was from 132, a little bit of a flier lie, a little bit unlucky so I'll take that. I hit a lovely shot on 16 and made birdie there. I think it was a pretty decent round for me.
“It will give me some confidence as this was my first event in the last couple of weeks. I was still a little bit nervous the first couple of rounds but it gave me more control of my game.”
Pep Angles

“It's been a little bit up and down these last few months so I'm proud that my game is back. I've been doing the right things and it just needed to click.

“Getting myself in contention is a real positive, I need to start doing that more often and learn from the experience and keep going and working on it. Hopefully, I will win pretty soon.
“I love being in contention, having a chance to win and being out there. The crowds were really good. It was nice, an experience to learn from and hopefully, I can get myself in the same spot in the coming weeks.”

Final Scores:

Play-off: A Quiros 4,4; Z Lombard 4,5

270 A Quiros (Esp) 63 64 70 73, Z Lombard (RSA) 62 68 72 68, 

271 L Haotong (Chn) 64 68 73 66, 

272 P Angles (Esp) 69 66 68 69, 

273 M Fraser (Aus) 66 66 74 67, J Scrivener (Aus) 68 67 71 67, 

274 D Horsey (Eng) 64 66 74 70, 

275 M Siem (Ger) 68 68 71 68, M Foster (Eng) 67 64 75 69, J Guerrier (Fra) 65 68 72 70, 

276 R Karlsson (Swe) 70 67 73 66, M Korhonen (Fin) 67 67 73 69, J Kruger (RSA) 63 69 73 71, Michael Hoey (Nir) 61 68 75 72, L Slattery (Eng) 64 70 70 72, T Lewis (Eng) 67 67 72 70, S Manley (Wal) 66 68 73 69, 

277 S Soderberg (Swe) 61 68 77 71, E De La Riva (Esp) 64 71 70 72, D Im (USA) 66 70 72 69, J Carlsson (Swe) 67 65 72 73, R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 62 73 73, 

278 J Morrison (Eng) 71 65 71 71, R Paratore (Ita) 71 62 70 75, T Bjørn (Den) 65 69 74 70, Gary Hurley (Irl) 67 66 72 73, 

279 B Evans (Eng) 68 67 74 70, O Fisher (Eng) 66 69 74 70, G Porteous (Eng) 68 67 70 74, A Björk (Swe) 69 66 74 70, 

280 A Connelly (Can) 68 69 74 69, E Johansen (Nor) 65 67 76 72, J Suri (USA) 75 62 72 71, C Paisley (Eng) 66 71 72 71, J Lima (Por) 64 67 73 76, S Heisele (Ger) 63 69 76 72, R Wattel (Fra) 66 67 80 67, 

281 A Dodt (Aus) 67 68 76 70, M Wallace (Eng) 68 69 76 68, J Winther (Den) 68 66 79 68, P Maddy (Eng) 66 67 73 75, W Ormsby (Aus) 66 66 76 73, J Dantorp (Swe) 68 69 71 73, E Pepperell (Eng) 67 67 75 72, S Jamieson (Sco) 69 67 75 70, H Porteous (RSA) 68 64 73 76, M Armitage (Eng) 65 71 72 73, 

282 J Smith (Eng) 68 68 77 69, R McEvoy (Eng) 67 67 77 71, M Manassero (Ita) 67 67 73 75, F Laporta (Ita) 66 69 78 69, A Saddier (Fra) 69 68 70 75, N Kimsey (Eng) 67 69 75 71, S Webster (Eng) 70 67 75 70,

283 J Parry (Eng) 69 67 74 73, R Kakko (Fin) 68 69 75 71, P Khongwatmai (Tha) 66 70 74 73, 

284 C Berardo (Fra) 66 71 73 74, J Donaldson (Wal) 69 67 75 73, N Johansson (Swe) 66 71 74 73, R Johnson (Swe) 70 65 79 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 67 75 74, 

285 O Lengden (Swe) 68 69 74 74, N Cullen (Aus) 66 70 74 75, 

286 T Detry (Bel) 71 66 75 74, 

287 J Rutherford (Eng) 69 68 74 76, 

288 P Peterson (USA) 66 69 78 75, O Stark (Swe) 68 67 80 73, L Cianchetti (am) (Ita) 67 70 80 71, 

289 P Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 67 68 79 75, 

291 L Gagli (Ita) 68 67 78 78, 

292 M Weir (Can) 67 70 76 79,