NORTHERN Ireland’s Michael Hoey opened up a five-shot lead ahead of today’s final round at the M2M Russian Open at Tseleevo Golf & Polo Club near Moscow.
Hoey carded six birdies and an eagle, with a bogey on the 11th the only blot on his round, to move to 14-under-par and open up a gap to England’s Matthew Nixon and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg in joint second place.
South Africa’s James Kingston and France’s Alexandre Kaleka were a further stroke back on eight-under while JB Hansen, Mikko Korhonen and James Morrison were in a three-way tie for sixth place on seven-under-par.
Hoey, who has four European Tour victories to his name, the last coming in the Trophee Hassan II in 2012, moved to the top of the leaderboard thanks to a seven-under-par round yesterday which saw him go out in 31.
The 34-year-old has not finished better than 25th on European Tour so far this season and missed seven of his last ten cuts coming into the event.
However, his opening two rounds of 70 and 67 put him firmly in contention, with yesterday’s 65 leaving him comfortably out in front.
“It was one of those days where everything went my way for the most part,” Hoey said.
“I played really well and was swinging the club well, but I got a few breaks here and there that really helped the score.
“I holed a 70-foot putt on the ninth for example – that was probably the biggest break I had out there. You just don’t really expect to hole those ones so that was a bit of a bonus. I am making a lot of putts this week and that is always the difference at this level. It’s all about putting.”
However, Hoey knows anything could still happen, and he is not yet contemplating his fifth tour win. He said last night: “Obviously I have a good lead but you just can’t take it for granted. Things went my way today but it might be someone else’s day tomorrow. I am just going to go out there and try to enjoy it. I have been in positions to win before and finished it off , but you still need to hit the shots and hole the putts.”