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Smyth drives off-course as McNulty fires

If Des Smyth is to continue the trend of Irish triumphs this week, he had better learn quickly to avoid the heather at Walton Heath.

Yesterday he visited it repeatedly and the result was a three-over-par 75 in the first round of the British Senior Open.

The 58-year-old Drogheda man, looking to emulate the Major successes of Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, racked up two double bogeys and two bogeys against three birdies as he finished seven shots off the lead shared by Zimbabwean-born Mark McNulty, who holds an Irish passport, American Mark Calcavecchia and Mike Harwood of Australia.

But Smyth was in good company. Among those also on 75 was Tom Watson, whose woes came on the greens. "I wasted a lot of strokes on the greens," he said. "But I played some pretty good golf tee to green."

Defending champion Bernhard Langer was four-under after seven holes, but faded slightly on the back nine to shoot 70, two-under par.

Eamonn Darcy, who has played very little golf this year after tearing the rotator cuff in his left shoulder and finding it slow to heal, followed up bogey fives at the seventh and eighth holes with a birdie two at the ninth and an eagle two at the 10th, where he holed his second shot with a seven-iron from 159 yards.

Then he took seven at the long 11th and slipped away to a 76, four-over par.

Cork man Denis O'Sullivan shot 73, but Pat Errity, who represents the European Club in Brittas Bay, was forced out by a back injury after nine holes.

British Senior Open,

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Irish Independent