Wednesday 22 November 2017

Helpful tip from Junior sees Smyth return to the winner's circle

William S Callahan

DES SMYTH revealed that old friends are best after swooping for his fourth victory on the European Seniors Tour with a final round 65 at The Royal Haagsche Golf and Country Club yesterday.

Smyth, a sprightly 58, paid tribute to Christy O'Connor Jnr for a swing tip which helped him land the €37,500 winner's cheque at the Van Lanschot Senior Open.

Ten years ago, Smyth, at 48 years and 34 days, became the oldest winner on the European Tour as he came home first in the Madeira Islands Open. In all, he earned €2.553m in a 27-year stint on the main Tour, including eight tournament victories and two Ryder Cup appearances.

Including April's success with Mark James in the Raphael Division of the Liberty Legends of Golf, he's now won seven times on either side of the Atlantic since turning 50, earning a whopping €4m in the eight years.

Remarkably, Smyth's been a winner across five decades and, judging by yesterday's sensational seven-under-par effort in Holland, there's still plenty in the tank.

As he cradled his latest trophy, Smyth offered hearty thanks to 'Junior' for the lesson on the range at Cologne last week which helped get his swing back into kilter -- and he vowed to reward his pal with several pints of Guinness.


"I'm absolutely delighted," he said. "And I have to thank Christy for giving me a lesson last week. My set-up was out of sync, because my right shoulder was out of position. I worked all week getting my hips and my shoulders on the same plane, and it paid off spectacularly."

The Irishman had two eagles and five birdies as he charged from four behind to beat overnight leaders Peter Fowler and Tim Thelen by two with "a crazy 65, because I opened with two three-putts -- at that stage I didn't fancy my chances too much."

Starting four behind, Smyth fell even further adrift with bogey at two, but a nice par save at three and a birdie at four, boosted his morale and there was no stopping him.

Smyth followed-up with an eagle at the fifth, another birdie at nine and his second eagle three of the day at 10. Back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14, then put him in front for the first time all week.

Even a dropped shot at 17, where Smyth missed from four feet for his par, failed to halt the bandwagon. He would birdie 18 to set the clubhouse target on six-under.

Playing in the group behind, Fowler knew he needed to eagle the last to force a play-off, but a wayward drive put paid to his chances and he had to settle instead for a par and a joint runner-up finish alongside Thelen.

Smyth now lies 13th in the Senior Tour Order of Merit with €60,668 earned in 2011.

Irish Independent

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