Monday 20 February 2017

Watching brief whets Smyth's appetite for Open

Published 20/07/2015 | 02:30

Des Smyth walked miles around the fairways of St Andrews as a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live
Des Smyth walked miles around the fairways of St Andrews as a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live

Des Smyth chose an unusual build-up to the British Senior Open championship which starts at Sunningdale on Thursday.

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Smyth, a Ryder Cup vice-captain in 2006 and 2014, walked miles around the fairways of St Andrews as a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live.

The job meant hours on the course following matches in the Open, and after five long rounds, Smyth was taking the positives.

"I enjoyed the experience. It's good for the fitness, and puts strength in your legs. It gives you a bit of a hunger to play, watching these guys, but I need to get some bit of practice in," said Smyth.

Ten years ago the Irishman was beaten in a play-off for the Senior Open at Royal Aberdeen by Tom Watson.

That was the closest he has come to lifting a Major in a remarkable career that started in 1974 and continues on the senior circuit.

Smyth never lost his card as a professional on the regular tour and won tournaments in four decades. He also played for Europe in the Ryder Cup in 1979 and 1981.

Smyth (62) is one of the most respected figures in professional golf, and retains his competitive enthusiasm.

He left Scotland last night in order to prepare for a departure tomorrow to London and then on to Sunningdale where he is due to play in the Senior Open Pro-Am at lunchtime.

There are no false predictions from Smyth, who has played only three Senior Tour events this season, although in the last two, he scored six-under-par.

"I have to be honest. I don't give myself a strong chance of winning.

"What would be good for me would be if I make that cut and get a few rounds in at the weekend.

"A top-10 finish would be a great result," he said.

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