Five-time European Tour winner Michael Hoey has announced his retirement from professional golf to take up a job with the DP World Tour as a referee.

The biggest win of the Northern Irishman’s 20-year career came in 2011 when he won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews.

The 43-year-old was British Amateur Champion and a member of the victorious 2011 GB & Ireland Walker Cup team.

“It’s exciting, a new challenge,” said Hoey of his new role on the DP Tour.

“After a long time as a pro golfer, which involves the total consumption of your life, you realise you have to do something else,” added the Belfast golfer, who finished 39th on the European Challenge Tour Order of Merit last year.

“When the pandemic started in 2020 I started learning the rules and looking into that as I didn’t really know where the future lay.

“I missed that whole year but had quite a good year last year and did quite well at the Dunhill Links so I proved to myself I could still play.

“But I’ve just turned 43 and I see so many good young players on the Challenge Tour now, it’s hard to make a living.

“I’ll always miss the thrill of competition but I’ve had two years to think about this and while I enjoyed it last year, you have to make a living out of it too and I’m happy with where I am.”

‘Pleased I took opportunities to win’

Hoey, who also won four titles on the Challenge Tour, will start his new role as a rules official next month in South Africa.

“It’s a good opportunity to continue to be involved in golf, applying the rules, setting up golf courses and knowing when and how to speak to the players.

“Every golfer probably feels they have underachieved but I’m pleased that when I had opportunities to win tournaments I took them.”

(Article Courtesy BBC Sport NI)