INTERVIEW: Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey

We chat to a surprise contender for the Ryder Cup team

Is there a specific reason why you have won three times in less than a year?
I am quite good when I get into contention, I just need to do it more often. That’s down to the consistency of swing. I’ve never been consistent because I’ve never really had a coach but now I work with Jamie Gough, who also works with George Coetzee.

You were a serial winner as an amateur too.
I obviously won the British Amateur, the Irish Amateur and Northern Ireland Amateur and then a tournament in Argentina, as well as the Walker Cup, so guess I was decent. If I can get in contention I can get in the zone.

What do you do mentally to help with your game?
I have been working with Karl Morris and a guy back home, Mark Elliott, who works with some of the rugby players.
We have worked on the importance of the process and staying in the present. It is all about controlling your emotions; if you hit a bad shot you can’t get too down on yourself.
If the big guys hit a bad shot they still stay pretty chilled out – probably because they know the next shot is going to be good.
Jamie is best friends with Luke Donald’s caddy and he says Luke’s brain is like a computer, he has so much control. He can hit poor shots but has such amazing self-discipline. At times I get pulled in to the flag, he seems better than most at not.

Is there a danger of relaxing on the back of your great run?
I don’t really feel like that, I am just trying to press on. I have a chance of making the Ryder Cup. I don’t sit and look at the rankings but I do know through other people that I’m up there. I watched a lot of the Ryder Cup growing up. My first memory was of Kiawah Island in 1991 and then we got Sky Sports for the matches at Oak Hill in 1995. It looks unbelievable.

We had Luke, Graeme and Nick Dougherty and all the guys have gone on to do something, which is quite rare. The team thing is just brilliant. You played on one of the best Walker Cup teams ever in 2001, didn’t you?
We had Luke, Graeme and Nick Dougherty and all the guys have gone on to do something, which is quite rare. The team thing is just brilliant, we have such selfish lifestyles as golfers and to be part of something and celebrate together is great. If you are lucky enough to win then you just get on a flight on the Sunday night and it is very different.

You partnered McDowell, what is like as a partner?
He is so positive and confident and he just had that winning mentality. Luke was the one you would have singled out to be great. He didn’t hit the ball the furthest but his short game was superb and he was so consistent.

You played on the Challenge Tour a lot. What did you learn?
It toughens you up, the golf is almost the easy bit. You can take as many as three flights to get somewhere and then you have to rent a car so by the time you get to the course you are exhausted. The main Tour it is so much easier.
The courses are obviously set up easier; you can spray it around a bit and the winner is 25 under. I find it harder to go really low, I prefer when you need to finish around 10 under.

Did you have a caddy back then?
I had a caddy in Ryan McGuigan when I got through in 2005 but I didn’t have anyone after that. My current caddy, who I’ve been with for three years, worked with Thomas Levet for eight years. Had I done well straightaway there is a danger that I might be a different person, and a bit of an idiot, so I’m glad I went the route that I did. I appreciate things more now.

You have been with IMG and Horizon Sports. Who looks after you now?
I have gone out on my own now. The economy in Ireland was really strong so I got some really good sponsorship on the Challenge Tour but that has slowed so I struggled to get some deals. So my wife Bev, an accountant, looks after me.

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