Smyth a Legend with second victory

DES SMYTH was in the air again yesterday, heading to Texas for the next stop on a Champions Tour campaign he is quickly making his own.

A day after claiming his second title in three starts at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf in Savannah, Georgia, the Irishman flew west to The Hills Country Club in Austin to prepare for this weekend's FedEx Kinko's Classic.

The latest win earned Smyth $382,000 (€294,000) and, having collected $232,500 (€179,000) from victory at the SBC Classic on St Patrick's weekend, moved him into second place on the Champions Tour money list with $684,506, trailing Hale Irwin by a little over $75,000.

Smyth also joins Irwin as the only two-time winners on the Tour this year, a position the Drogheda veteran would scarcely have believed given the weekend's events in Savannah.

If he had been at home in Baltray on Sunday, the wind and cool temperatures that greeted the final round of the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf would have kept him indoors.

Playing in conditions similar to home, Smyth carded a one-under-par 71, the day's only par-breaking round and finished with an 8-under 208 total, two strokes ahead of final-round playing partner Tom Jenkins and three clear of second-round leader Wayne Levi and first-round leader Tom Purtzer.

"I still can't believe I won this tournament," said Smyth of his victory which also brings him a lifetime exemption into the prestigious tournament. "When I came over here a few years ago, it was a tournament I identified as something I wanted to play in."

As for the conditions, Smyth, who tied for 19th in last year's Legends of Golf, added: "I'm used to hitting the ball low and hard and shaping it and I think that was an advantage," said Smyth.

"I was brought up on links golf. I wouldn't think most of the other players are used to conditions like this. But to me to me it was almost like a day back home."

Entering the final round two behind Levi, Smyth made his move on the back nine. He drove the short par four 14th and two-putted for birdie to grab a one-shot lead over Jenkins, Levi and Purtzer.

Smyth's lead grew to two over Levi and Purtzer and three over Jenkins with a birdie on the par three 15th.

Levi, Purtzer and Jenkins all bogeyed 15 to give Smyth a three-shot cushion down the stretch. He maintained his advantage with pars on 16 and 17 but he lost a stroke with a bogey on the 18th, giving him the two-shot win.

Jenkins called Smyth's tee shot on the 172-yard, par three 15th "the shot of the day."

"I hit a great shot," Smyth concurred." "The shot was from right to left. I aimed it at the TV tower ... which was 10 yards right of the target. I aimed it and hit it right at the TV tower and it got the most beautiful soft draw coming straight into the flag and it finished up two feet short."

During the Champions Tour's four-week layoff, Smyth went back to Drogheda to celebrate his first Champions Tour victory. On Sunday night, he headed to an Irish pub to toast to his second victory in the last three events.

Vijay Singh capped a Hall of Fame week with another piece of history on Sunday.

Singh defeated John Daly on the first play-off hole to become the first back-to-back winner of the $5 million Houston Open.

On Wednesday, Singh was announced as the newest inductee to the World Golf Hall of Fame. Then the 42-year-old native of Fiji added another victory to his stellar resume his 26th on the PGA Tour by outlasting a hard-charging Daly.

Both players finished at 13-under-par 275. Singh, who has won three of the last four tournaments here, entered the final round tied with Gavin Coles for the lead and fired a two-under 70.

Daly and Singh went back to the 18th tee to start the play-off and Singh pushed his drive right into the rough. Daly, who had birdied 18 to tie Singh, hit a fairway metal through the fairway and into the water, essentially handing Singh the title.

"In the play-off, I came over the three-wood," Daly said.

"I put a good swing on it, just turned it over a little too much."

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