Michael Hoey loses ground on leader in Sicily

Michael Hoey

Michael Hoey

Michael Hoey is just two shots behind leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain at the halfway point of the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily.

Quiros, who came into this week ranked 703rd in the world having previously been as high as 21st, led by five strokes overnight in Sicily and stretched that advantage to seven with four birdies in his first six holes on Sunday.

The former world number 23 lay 20 under after six holes but four bogeys and a double bogey, including four dropped shots between the 15th and the 17th, saw him drop back into the pack at Verdura Golf Club.

"It's a odd feeling because obviously I'm very happy", Quiros, who reached as high as 21st in the world in 2011 but started the week 703rd, told Sky Sports.

Both men parred the first extra hole, but Lombard then three-putted the second to allow a grateful Quiros to tap-in for victory and a European Tour exemption until the end of 2018.

Quiros donated shots to create the playoff, but Lombard offered the final gift of the day, and it was enough to decide the outcome. The main thing I take from this is that I can be in contention and I can win. China's Li Haotong finished a shot out of a play-off at 13 under after a closing 66, a shot clear of Spaniard Pep Angles. "Today was a big step mentally speaking, trying to be patient".

"My game today was a little bit worse than yesterday, but my putting on the back nine was unbelievable so I'm very happy", Quiros said.

Quiros has committed to playing mainly on the Challenge Tour this season in an effort to regain his European Tour card and added: "I'm not going to fix my situation in one day or in one tournament, so hopefully I can keep working, still adding good rounds and at the end of the year come back to the Tour". It's a good consolation prize to get into Wentworth for the BMW PGA Championship.

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