Tuesday 23 December 2014

Smyth proving age no barrier as he hits 60

Published 13/02/2013 | 04:00

DES SMYTH celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday and one of Ireland's great golfing ambassadors is competitive as ever.

"I still feel good and I have a little ambition for 2013 to win at the age of 60," he said.

"I've won a title in each of the last five decades and it would be great to add to that record. I've also won in my 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, so it would be nice to win in my 60s, too."

Smyth, a Ryder Cup vice-captain at The K Club in 2006, won the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters at Woburn in September and recorded six other top-10 finishes on the European Senior Tour last year, to finish the season ninth on the Order of Merit.

That matched his joint best campaign since 2005 – the year he lost in a play-off to Tom Watson in the Senior Open Championship at Royal Aberdeen – proving that even as he enters his seventh decade, age proves no barrier for the former Ryder Cup player.

He enjoyed the status as the oldest man to win on the regular Tour for 11 years after winning the 2001 Madeira Islands Open aged 48 years and 34 days.

Last year, Miguel Angel Jimenez took that accolade by winning the UBS Hong Kong Open at the age of 48 years and 318 days.

Smyth said: "I lost my record to a great player. I thought it might have gone before it did. I thought Mark McNulty, or Eduardo Romero, or Barry Lane might have picked one off, but they didn't.

Miguel is great, though. He seems to be getting better with age, and he is playing some great golf.

"You don't mind losing a record to a guy like that. He's a great character.

"I had the record for 11 years, which is a long time. I was very proud of it and I still am, to be the second oldest.

"I remember when Neil Coles was the oldest winner (at 48 years and 14 days when he won the 1982 Sanyo Open) and I was young at the time.

"It seemed ridiculous, a guy winning at his age – and then I got his record. It's crazy, the clock keeps ticking and before you know it you are there."

Coles holds the record for the oldest winner on the Senior Tour following his victory in the 2002 Lawrence Batley Seniors Open at the remarkable age of 67 years and 276 days.

While Smyth's own success shows no sign of slowing down, he admits that particular target is probably beyond even him.

"I think his record on the Senior Tour is out of reach," he said.

"Neil was exceptional in a lot of ways. I don't think I can go on for that long."

Irish Independent

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