Smyth strikes Dutch gold

INSPIRED by a tip from compatriot Christy O’Connor Jnr, Des Smyth captured his fourth European Senior Tour title in thrilling fashion with a sublime round of 65 at the Van Lanschot Senior Open in Holland yesterday.

After finishing two strokes ahead of Australian Peter Fowler and American Tim Thelen thanks chiefly to a brace of eagles in a regal display at Royal Haagsche Golf and Country Club, Smyth paid tribute to O’Connor, who noticed that his friend’s alignment was out of kilter.

That brief lesson on the range in Cologne last week helped transformed Smyth’s game, and the 58 year old — who still holds the record as the oldest winner on The European Tour — vowed to reward O’Connor with several pints of Guinness.

Smyth, who has won titles across five decades in an illustrious career on The European and Senior Tours, moved up to 13th place on the Order of Merit after collecting €37,500.

He said: “It was a crazy 65, because I opened up with two three-putts. So at that point I didn’t fancy my chances too much. But then I sunk a ten foot putt for par on the third hole, and after that things started happening for me.”

lMarathon man Pablo Larrazabal beat fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia at the fifth play-off hole to capture his second European Tour title in Munich.

The 28-year-old’s victory in the BMW International Open came only 20 days after he lost at the sixth hole of sudden death in a British Open Championship qualifier at Sunningdale.

Now Larrazabal will be going to Sandwich after all — and so will Garcia, whose runner-up finish earned him the other spot up for grabs off a “current form” mini money list.

After making a birdie on the 72nd to force extra holes, Garcia lost when he three-putted the same green an hour later.

There was also sadness attached to the win, however: “Last week we lost my grandad, the captain of the family, and this is for him,” he said. “Beating one of my heroes when I was growing up is just a dream — very emotional.”

* Alan Dunbar was pipped at the post in a brave bid to become the second Irishman in three years to lift the Brabazon Trophy at Burnham and Berrow, Somerset yesterday.

The 22-year-old from Rathmore appeared to be out of contention following a disappointing third round 79 on Saturday, but moved into top gear on the final day to card an impressive 69 and come within a whisker of becoming English Amateur Open strokeplay champion.

England’s Neil Raymond kept his nerve in the closing holes after a few hiccups to post a 75 and finish on 287 — just one stroke clear of Dunbar.

lLeona Maguire once again showed her immense talent in the wind and rain at Royal Porthcawl, Wales coast at the weekend, but Great Britain and Ireland still suffered a record 15½-8.5 defeat by the Continent of Europe in½ the Vagliano Trophy match.

The 16-year-old from Slieve Russell in Cavan can take considerable personal satisfaction from the match as she was the only player from either side to conclude the two-day contest with a 100% record.

Maguire won all her three matches after being omitted from the opening foursomes session on Friday morning.

She and Irish compatriot Danielle McVeigh were in fine foursomes form to demolish Theresa Koelbaek and Madelene Sagstrom by 6&4 while Royal Portrush’s Stephanie Meadow and Scotland’s Pamela Prestswell went down on the home green to Sophie Popov and Lara Katzy after squaring at the long 17th with a spectacular eagle three.

In the afternoon Maguire took on France’s Celine Boutier and after the pair were level with three holes played the Irish teenager made a decisive move winning 4,6 and 7 to open up a three-hole lead.

But Boutier rallied taking 9 and 13 to reduce the deficit to one only for Maguire to capture 16 and 17 for victory.

The inaugural junior match was also won by Europe on a 13-5 scoreline.

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