As the cream of the European Senior Tour return to the Netherlands for the Dutch Senior Open this week, Ireland’s Des Smyth – winner of this event two years ago – says he is thrilled to see golf on the rise in a country in which he has enjoyed considerable success.
Smyth was triumphant in 2011 at the tournament’s previous incarnation, the Van Lanschot Senior Open, previously played at The Royal Haagsche G&CC from 2010–2012, and will this week be hoping for more of the same at the Ian Woosnam-designed International, located near Amsterdam.
Sixty Senior Tour professionals will compete for the €200,000 prize fund in the third to last event on the 2013 schedule, and Smyth says the mixture of previous form, culture and the upwardly-spiralling state of the sport in the country could well prove great stimulation.
“You get positive vibes going back to a country where you have won before, and I have played well in Holland a few times before,” said Smyth, whose fifth and last victory came at the 2012 Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters.
“I finished second behind Mark Mouland at the Dutch Open in 1988 and had a number of other top ten finishes there, so I always like coming back.
“Plus the beer is very good, so that’s another positive! I like the way they pour their small beers – that is a little bit of fun – but really it is a lovely place, the people are great. They enjoy their golf and always make you feel very welcome.
“They are on a bit of a high at the moment, with the form of Joost Luiten. He won the KLM Open a few weeks ago and is shaping up to potentially be the first Dutchman to make The Ryder Cup team, so I think golf in Holland is on the up and there is something very inspiring about seeing that.”
After a disappointing season by his high standards – Smyth is languishing in 24th in the Order of Merit with the season rapidly reaching its denouement – he knows a good performance could prove key this week in Amsterdam.
“I started the season well and felt I was going to step up, but I’ve lost my way a bit in recent weeks,” he continued. “I made the analogy of Snakes and Ladders – I thought I was going to go on and win but instead I missed the step, grabbed the snake and ended up at the bottom again.
“You are very conscious of where you are in the Order of Merit at this point in the year. I was comfortably in the top 18 and on course for the US Senior PGA Championship, but I’ve slipped out of there now so I’m looking for a top five finish at least to lift me up the rankings.
“I saw some positives last week in England, and hopefully this week I can produce something a little better.”
Denmark’s Steen Tinning is also in the field in the Netherlands having ascended to the top of the Order of Merit with a stunning second victory of his rookie season at the English Senior Open last week; as is the man he deposed, England’s Paul Wesselingh.
Third-placed Peter Fowler is also gunning for a crucial finish as he bids for a second John Jacobs Trophy to go with the one he won in 2011, while the in-form duo of Miguel Angel Martin of Spain and Scotland’s Andrew Oldcorn – who have amassed 11 top finishes in their last seven events between them – will be hoping to record their first victories of the season.
Former Ryder Cup captains Mark James and Sam Torrance, whose Great Britain and Ireland team narrowly lost out to José María Olazábal’s Continental Europeans in the Seve Trophy last week, are also on show at The International.
|1||BROWN, Simon P||ENG||11:30||-3|
|T3||CARRILES, José Manuel||ESP||11:20||Par|
|T6||MARTIN, Miguel Angel||ESP||11:00||1|