Perhaps it’s time to putt away the broom

DES SMYTH has been a big advocate of the broom-handle putter for many years, but after watching him miss several crucial putts over the weekend, he might be better advised to revert to the more conventional model.

On Saturday evening, he hit the most exquisite iron shots to less than a yard at both the 17th and 18th holes only to miss both times.

And after losing a play-off to Tom Watson on Sunday, he was left to ruefully reflect: "I shot 68, 67 over the weekend. That was my plan. I played very well today. I had two three-putts and against that type of opposition, you can't afford things like that."

To eventually finish second is another major feather in Smyth's cap not to mention an additional €221,800 in his bank account. Having won twice in the States earlier in the year, he is enjoying a marvellous campaign which sees him climb to 4th on the Champions Tour order of merit with the handsome total of $1.032 million (€855,200).

Still looking back on those missed chances, Europe's 2006 Ryder Cup vice captain went on: "But even so I still had my chances down in the playoff. And I hit a poor shot at 17. Maybe my concentration dipped a little. Just seemed to get ahead of it and put it in a tough position in the bunker. But anyway, Tom won and he's a great champion so that's nothing new.

"The competitive juices flow when you're going head to head with someone like Tom. And we were going at it. And really I enjoyed it because I played well all day. I was in control of my game except for one or two putts. But you could say the same for Tom. He missed one at 15 when it looked like he had a birdie in the bag. But I felt I had my chance. I probably should have nailed it at 13 but under-clubbed a little because that green was very hard and I ended up three putting. Had I gone ahead there I might have stayed ahead."

The Watson-Smyth duel was all the more exciting for the wonderful spirit in which it was played.

"It was enjoyable, it always is when you play well," Smyth acknowledged. "That's the whole key about golf finding your game and playing well. And if someone is a little better than you at the end of the week, that's fine.

But my game is in good shape and I feel like I can compete with the best in seniors golf. I think everyone enjoyed it. The crowds were wonderful. As for the players, we had a very tough opening couple of days, but I think the players enjoyed the experience. I have two more weeks in America and then I have a two week break. I'm in good spirits going into the US Seniors Open next week but it won't be played on a links course."

Peter Lawrie's share of 5th place in the Deutsche Bank TPC of Europe at the weekend earned him 74,990 and moved him up to 40th on the European Tour order of merit with a total of 348,669. Accordingly, Lawrie is ideally poised to qualify for the lucrative end of season Volvo Masters at Valerrama for which the top 50 on the money list qualify.

Lawrie intends to compete week-in, week-out until his wife Philippa gives birth to their first child in September and accordingly he is in the field for this week's 1.6m Scandinavian Masters along with fellow Irishmen Gary Murphy, Stephen Browne and Philip Walton.

Irish order of merit rankings: 12th Darren Clarke €760, 868; 13th Paul McGinley €760, 758; 40th Peter Lawrie €348,669; 42nd Graeme McDowell €343, 623; 48th Padraig Harrington €298, 803; 56th Damien McGrane €280, 211; 65th Gary Murphy 248, 134.

Irish world rankings: 8th Harrington; 15th Clarke; 43rd McDowell; 48th McGinley; 239th Lawrie; 258th McGrane; 265th Murphy; 366th David Higgins.

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