Hoey had been lurking near the top of the leaderboard from the tournament’s outset, which he began on Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club’s east course in South Africa. He carded four birdies on the front nine on Thursday as an opening salvo, added a quick pair after the turn at 10 and 11, and clipped another stroke off par by playing the three closing holes birdie-bogey-birdie to end with 64.
Friday was somewhat more sedate, although mistake-free. He played the west course, coming up even on each of the first 11 holes, before carding birdies at 12, 14 and 15 for 68. A rain delay of nearly two hours didn’t do anything to rattle Hoey, and, in fact, might have worked to his advantage.
“It was just perfect at the end there,” Hoey said. “There was no wind, which was probably an advantage because it was quite hot earlier on.”
Playing in the final trio on Saturday, when play was twice delayed by rain, Hoey was a stroke under par until the 10th hole, where he took the first of three straight bogeys. He managed to get one of those strokes back to finish the round at 1-under-par 71.
He was just two strokes off the lead beginning play on Sunday, but couldn’t generate any momentum. A birdie at 6 was negated, and then some, by a double-bogey 7 at 8. A final birdie at 15 left him at even-par 72 for the day, but that was six shots off the winning 269 posted by Anders Hansen.
Following close on the heels of his 11th-place tie in South Africa just before Christmas, Hoey may be about to deliver on the tremendous promise that was forecast for him after he won the British Amateur in 2001.