Ireland’s Des Smyth returns to the scene of one of his finest rounds when he attempts to defend a European Senior Tour title for the first time at this week’s Van Lanschot Senior Open in The Netherlands.
Smyth fired a magnificent closing round of 65 to win by two strokes at Royal Haagsche Golf & Country Club in The Hague 12 months ago, having started the day four shots behind Australian Peter Fowler.
It was Smyth’s fourth Senior Tour title and he nearly made it five later in the season when he lost to Spaniard Juan Quiros in the Cannes Mougins Masters.
With one top ten finish already this season in the Benahavis Senior Masters, Smyth believes his game is in good shape for a successful defence at a course where he also finished in the top five in 2010.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to The Netherlands,” said the 59 year old. “I went into the last event at Slaley Hall feeling like I was playing well but with all the weather conditions I seemed to get worse each day.
“Hopefully I can pick it up and play well when defending my title and then during the nice run of events afterwards.
“It was a special final round last year and it was nice to come from a few behind. It was a spectacular run – seven under par in the final round is pretty impressive. I think it is the lowest round I have shot to win a tournament. I have happy memories and I played well there the year before, so it is a course I like.
“It has a links feel to it and I like playing links golf. I’m happy with the way I’m playing too so I’m really looking forward to it. At home I’ve defended the Irish National Championship but I’ve never successfully defend one on Tour so it would be a nice box to tick.”
Smyth succeeded George Ryall as champion following the Englishman’s maiden Senior Tour title in 2010. Ryall became the first non-exempt player to win on the Senior Tour since 2007 when he held off Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn by one shot.
Oldcorn also has a fine record at Royal Haagsche Golf & Country Club having finished tied tenth last year, and he will have been boosted by a strong defence of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship two weeks ago, finishing joint-runner up at De Vere Slaley Hall.
Paul Wesselingh, who denied Oldcorn to claim his maiden Senior Tour title, is in the field, along with fellow Englishman Gary Wolstenholme, who has won twice on the Senior Tour so far this season.
They are joined by former Ryder Cup Captains Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, and the top two on the 2011 Order of Merit, Fowler and Barry Lane.