Smyth the wizard of Woburn again

Des Smyth won his second Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters title in three years with a superb four under par 68 in the final round at Woburn.

The 59-year-old from Drogheda, who triumphed here in 2010, finished with a ten under par total in front of record crowds, one shot clear of Australian Peter Fowler and two in front of Englishman Mark James, the pair bothsigning for 67.

Smyth spend much of the day level at the top with Spaniard Juan Quiros, but the 11th hole proved pivotal, with the Irishman birdieing and the Spaniard bogeying to open up a two shot gap, and Quiros ultimately had to settle for a 73 and a share of fifth place.

“It was very enjoyable,” said Smyth, who won £45,000 and his fifth Senior Tour trophy. “I’ve been playing well for a number of weeks and I felt very comfortable. I’ve won tournaments before when I’ve scrambled and got it up and down from all over the place, but this was a comfortable round. I think I only missed one or two greens and I felt in control all day.

Smyth is the second player to win this event twice – after Carl Mason (in 2006 and 2007) – and heaped praise on the Duke’s Course.

“It’s a really quality course and condition-wise it was fantastic,” he said. “All the rain has been hopeless for the rest of the country, but this course is built on sand and it looked magnificent all week.

“It played a bit longer than we’re used to, but it’s always a pleasure to play here. In fact I might even come and live here, it’s that nice!

“In the last few years I’ve made some changes to my game, and in the last eight or nine months I’ve felt very comfortable. I’m 60 next year and my next goal is to win in my 60s. I’m looking forward to good things.”

For James and Fowler, finishing second capped a fine week during which the former was awarded Honorary Life Membership of The European Tour and the latter received the 2011 Rolex Player of the Year award having won last season’s Order of Merit.

James said: “I’m very pleased and this caps a great week. To receive Honorary Life Membership was a real honour, and it’s nice I’ve followed it up with a good performance.”

* Richie Ramsay claimed the second European Tour victory of his career after winning the Omega European Masters title by four shots at Crans-sur-Sierre in the Swiss Alps.

The Scot followed up a blemish-free 64 in his third round with a five-under-par 66 yesterday which sees him move up to €763,254 in the race to Dubai.

Five birdies on the opening nine holes set up the 29-year-old, and although he bogeyed 13 and 17, an eagle on the par-five 14 made sure of victory.

Walsh and Meehan hardy slouched, breaking the Irish national record in both yesterday’s rides but, though they went out faster in the final and on a bigger gear, the gap between them and the eventual winners grew steadily to three seconds by the end.

“We went out, fought hard and did the best we could,” said Meehan who is participating in her first Games at the age of 34. “We got second and dideverything we said we would do when we came here.

“We can’t be disappointed, weleft everything out on the track butthe New Zealand girls werephenomenal so that is a damned good second.”

There was a remarkable, if initially confusing, postscript to the weekend when word emerged from theequestrian competition at Greenwich Park that Wicklow’s Helen Kearney had secured a silver in the individual championship test (Grade 1A).

Realisation then dawned, slowly, that the 23-year-old’s efforts had pulled the Ireland team she is a member of alongside Eilish Byrne, GeraldineSavage and James Dwyer into the bronze position in the dressage team event and bringing the overall medal haul to seven.

“My family and friends from home are here and everyone around the place has been amazing,” said Kearney, who proved to be such a central part of what is the first equestrian teamIreland has sent to the Paralympic Games.

“It feels great but it definitely adds pressure. A few weeks ago I drove through my home town (of Dunlaven) and there were flags and bannerseverywhere. It’s amazing to see theeffort that people have made.”

Kearney earned the podium places on board her horse Mister Cool who improved as the day went on.

“He can be an angel and a devil. He needs plenty of work but I’ve got a handle on him. When I first started to trip and stumble he used to be terrified and didn’t understand but my disability is degenerative (Friedreich’s ataxia) so now he’s got used to it.”

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