Des Smyth will go into this week’s US Senior Open Championship looking to go one better after losing in a play-off at The Senior British Open Championship, presented by Aberdeen Asset Management.
The Irishman leads the European challenge at NCR Country Club, Kettering, Ohio, where he will be determined to end his long wait for a first Major Championship title.
Smyth went agonisingly close to lifting The Senior British Open Championship at Royal Aberdeen Golf Club last weekend, but was beaten on the third play-off hole by American Tom Watson when he found a bunker with his tee shot into the par three 17th.
The 52 year old from Drogheda, County Louth – twice a winner on the US Champions Tour this season - splashed out to 20 feet and could only make bogey, while Watson got down in two from just off the back of the putting surface to regain the trophy he won at Turnberry in 2003.
Both players had finished the regulation 72 holes locked at four under par 280. Two return trips to the 18th failed to split the pair but when Smyth found sand at the 17th, Watson secured a 12th Major Championship and his fourth in the Senior ranks.
It was Smyth’s highest finish in a Major and he will hope to build on that performance in the US Senior Open, which starts on Thursday and will, ironically, see Watson and Smyth paired together for the opening two rounds.
Smyth’s compatriot Mark McNulty and England’s Mark James, who claimed his first Major at the 2004 Ford Senior Players’ Championship, are two other European Seniors Tour Members who will be confident of a good showing, having finished eighth and tied 12 respectively at The Senior British Open Championship.
The European Seniors Tour will also be represented by Australian Greg Norman, third at Royal Aberdeen, who has been paired with James for the opening two rounds, while McNulty is out with American Hale Irwin.
Last year’s US Senior Open at Bellerive Country Club, St Louis, was won by American Peter Jacobsen, who shrugged off a sore hip to get through 36 holes on the Sunday and beat Irwin by one stroke. At 50, Jacobsen became the second youngest winner of the event.