| 9.1°C Dublin

Smyth denied in sudden death play-off

DES SMYTH delivered the headline performance by Ireland's touring golfers at the weekend as he fought his way into sudden death at the Cannes Mougins Masters only to lose to his Spanish nemesis Juan Quiros.

Also of significant interest were the performances of Padraig Harrington and Gary Murphy as the Austrian Open came to a climax at The Diamond Country Club.

Sadly, Murphy's hopes of giving a significant lift to his flagging fortunes on the European Tour would be unfulfilled as a disappointing final-round 73 sent the Kilkenny man tumbling back into a share of 21st place on three-under.

A cheque for l10,400 offered some comfort to Murphy in a grim but failing battle to regain Tour credentials. Kenneth Ferrie beat fellow Englishman Simon Wakefield to win the tournament in a play-off.

As a three-time Major champion, Harrington normally would not be expected to take much pleasure from a 36th-place finish (worth E7,100) on one-under, 11 strokes shy of the play-off.

Yet after signing for his closing 72, the Dubliner was quite chipper about his first-ever visit to Austria and the opportunity it gave him to put his new swing to the test.

"I saw a lot of stuff I was happy with, especially my driver, which I hit very well and very straight. In fact it was probably the straightest club in the bag this week. It was very worthwhile -- a good trip," said Harrington.

"If I hit my driver like that every week, I'd ask for no more," added the 40-year-old. "I'm not so keen on other parts of my game but it's more a distraction than anything else. I'm a bit mixed up at points on the course.

"I've only seen Pete (Cowen, his new coach) once so I am looking forward to seeing him again this week (at the Dunhill Links Championship)," explained Harrington. He described the bandage he wore on his wrist yesterday as only a precautionary measure after a mind touch of tendinitis.

A superb, bogey-free 67 in Saturday's final round brought Smyth tantalisingly close to his second European Seniors Tour win of the season and he finished on 10-under with Quiros (69).

Yet the Bettystown native was beaten on the second tie hole by a birdie from the Spaniard, who also pipped him at the post in the 2008 Irish Open in Ballyliffin.

"I told Juan I think he has my number," joked Smyth. "He's a great player, though, and I'm pleased for him."

Irish Independent