Des Smyth, runner-up to Tom Watson in last week’s Senior British Open Championship, will tee off alongside his Royal Aberdeen nemesis again this weekend after firing a one under par 70 in the third round of the US Senior Open at NCR South Course in Kettering, Ohio..
The Irishman who lost in a play-off to Watson, sits alongside the American on a seven under par total of 206, four shots behind joint leaders Loren Roberts and Craig Stadler, who both shot rounds of 69 for an aggregate of 202. Watson, though, dropped out of a share of the lead with a third round 73.
Smyth said: "The golf course was more difficult today because the ball was actually bouncing into the rough. The first two days if you pitched it on the fairway, it stayed there. I hit three good drives, and three times they just bounced through the fairway and into that heavy rough. You might have to play a different strategy if the course is going to play this fast tomorrow."
The 52 year old European Tour veteran is no stranger to adverse conditions. Smyth still resides in his birthplace of Drogheda, Ireland, and holds the title of oldest player to win a European Tour event thanks to his victory at the 2001 Madeira Island Open at the age of 48.
Smyth changed to a long putter just prior to the Senior British Open and he added: “I switch over and back. I was using the short one up until last Thursday . . . the wind was blowing so strong. I switched to the long one last week and putted well, and I continue to putt well while it's hot."
Smyth struggled with his ball-striking in round three, hitting only four fairways and five greens in regulation, but managed to make several key par saves throughout his round. Although he missed two eight foot putts on the 15th and 17th for par and birdie respectively, Smyth knows that he escaped with a solid score for the day.
"I didn't play that well today," said Smyth. "I'm happy with 70. It was a bit of a struggle. I tried [attacking the course] today and it didn't work. I might have to go with a new game plan tomorrow."
Already a two-time winner this year on the US Champions Tour, Smyth now bids to win his first Major title on Sunday afternoon.