Smyth eager to add Senior title to Irish wave of success
Published 22/07/2010 | 05:00
It is a sentimental return to Carnoustie for Des Smyth when he tees up in today's commencing British Seniors Open championship.
Smyth made his British Open debut at Carnoustie in 1975 when American Tom Watson defeated Australia's Jack Newton in a play-off to capture the first of five British Open titles.
The then 22-year-old Drogheda-born Smyth missed the cut with a pair of 78s and the Angus County course was no kinder to a then 46-year-old when he carded rounds of 75 and 82 to also have the weekend off in the 1999 British Open. However, despite being 25 over par for those four rounds, Carnoustie ranks as Smyth's favourite of all the British Open venues he's competed on.
"Even though I don't have many happy memories, Carnoustie is my favourite British Open course," said Smyth. "I played my first British Open here in 1975 when Tom Watson won and I have been back a few times since and I have just enjoyed the golf course.
"It's a terribly difficult course and it's a big challenge which I love playing. I've played with Tom quite a bit and he is one of the game's great players."
Coincidentally, it was Watson who defeated Smyth in a play-off for the 2005 British Seniors Open at Royal Aberdeen.
Smyth tees up in good form, coming off two top-10s with a fifth last fortnight in Holland and a sixth-place finish the week before in Austria that has him placed 24th, and the leading Irish player, on the Seniors Tour money list.
Smyth wound up his preparations yesterday playing in the company of two of the other three Irish in the $2m event. They were friends Christy O'Connor Jnr and Eamonn Darcy.
And with Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy doing so well on the main European Tour, Smyth is hoping he and other Irish competing at Carnoustie can jump on the Irish wave of success.
"Irish golf is the best it's ever been and it would be tremendous if we could add a Senior title this year," said Smyth.
"But when I was starting out I wouldn't have seen that Irish golf was going to be this strong, so you have got to take your hat off to the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish PGA. Graeme, Rory and Shane Lowry have all come through that same system.
"I watched every shot of Graeme winning the US Open and it was fantastic and it can only get better as young golfers will look up to players like him, Rory and Shane Lowry."
At 61 years of age, O'Connor is one of the oldest in this week's field but unlike Smyth he's never played a Carnoustie British Open, while the Galway golfer has contested just four Senior's events this season. "I'm not playing a whole lot of golf and really just one or two tournaments here and there," he said.
This year's British Seniors Open boasts a field featuring 13 Major winners who between them have captured 22 Major championships.
British Seniors Open,
Live, Sky Sports 3, 11.30/4.30