ALIAS Smyth and James ... Des Smyth and Mark James displayed the sharpshooting skills of a couple of fictional Wild West heroes as, once again, they left their rivals for dead at the Liberty Mutual Legends.
For the second year in succession, Bettystown native Smyth and English compadre James rode away from this Champions Tour event at Savannah Golf Resort with first prize in the Raphael Division for golfers between the ages of 50 and 69.
James got the drop on the opposition by holing a monster 45-foot putt for birdie from off the back of the 18th green to seal a thrilling one-stroke victory. Yet Smyth fired off no fewer than nine birdies as the winning pair compiled a sensational closing 61.
Smyth and James made off with $60,000 each after topping the 36-hole Raphael Division on 19-under par.
Mark McCumber and Wayne Grady plus Steven Jones and Denis Watson led the posse in a tie for second, the latter two charging home with a birdie-eagle finish.
"I'm shocked we needed such a low score to win because we were tying at eight-under going out, got to the turn in seven-under and then followed with a couple more birdies at 11 and 12," said Smyth. "At that point I thought we must have been a couple ahead.
"Yet I looked at the board and saw we were only tying. Then we came off the 15th green and found we were a shot back. I'm amazed how they all shot so low."
Back-to-back victories with former Ryder Cup captain James in the Raphael Division brings 57-year-old Smyth's haul of wins in Savannah to three, including the main Liberty Mutual Legends title in 2005, when it was played in an individual format over 54 holes. Smyth also won the SBC Championship that year.
In all, he has had four tournament successes on the US Champions Tour, while the evergreen Irishman clinched his fourth career victory on the European Senior Tour at last June's Van Lanschot Senior Open in Holland.
Though Smyth and James suspected they'd need a birdie at the last to beat McCumber and Grady, they'd no idea playing the final hole that Jones and Watson had also drawn level.
"Probably just as well," said James, explaining his decision to putt from off the final green by adding: "At this stage of the season, usually I chip very poorly. That'd be embarrassing in front of the grandstands, so the putter seemed a better bet."
As for the title-clinching putt itself, James smiled: "It was all down to me. Gloss over Des and his previous nine birdies ... he holed a couple of really big putts himself, including one from 60 feet for birdie at six."
David Frost and Michael Allen completed a one-stroke victory over Joey Sindelar and John Cook in the 54-hole Legends. A third-round 62 propelled the winners to 29-under par and clinched a second Champions Tour title in seven days for Allen.
Meanwhile, South African Q-School graduate Branden Grace (23) underscored his potential by romping to his third European Tour victory of 2012 in the Volvo China Open in Tianjin. Grace picked up his first Tour win at January's Joburg Open, following up a week later by beating his idols Ernie Els and Retief Goosen in sudden death at the Volvo Champions on his 'home' course at Fancourt.
With yesterday's victory, he becomes one of only four men to win three times in the same European Tour season, emulating Seve Ballesteros, Sandy Lyle and Johan Edfors, Swede Edfors being the only other Q-School graduate to do it.
A final-round 69 eased Grace three clear of Belgium's defending champ Nicolas Colsaerts and, in this form, even more honours could lie ahead.
Damien McGrane, the 2008 China Open winner, closed with an impressive 68, including the day's only eagle at the par-four 10th. He earned €24,514 in a tie for 23rd on 11-under.
Shane Lowry shared 49th place (worth €10,762) on six-under after a disappointing 74. Michael Hoey was two shots back and tied 60th (worth €6,457) after a 71.
Peter Lawrie earned €5,797 in 63rd following his 71, while a closing 74 saw Gareth Maybin pick up €5,261 in 64th.
• An emotional Ben Curtis earned his first win on Tour since 2006 with a two shot victory over Matt Every and John Huh to clinch the Texas Open with a level par round of 72.