DES SMYTH hopes that he and his Irish colleagues can draw on the winning ways of their younger compatriots at this week’s British Seniors Open at Carnoustie.
The likes of Pádraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry have catapulted Irish golf into the international headlines and now Smyth wants some of the game’s veterans to continue that trend.
It been five years since an Irish player tasted success on the Seniors Tour and that was when Smyth captured the US Senior title in 2005.
Later that year Smyth went close to winning the British Seniors Open at Royal Aberdeen, losing a play-off to Tom Watson.
But given the present strength of Irish golf, Smyth along with Eamon Darcy, Jim Heggarty and Christy O’Connor will be out to turn the tables this week.
“Irish golf is the best it’s been and it would be tremendous if we could add a senior title this year,” said Smyth.
“But when I was starting out I couldn’t have seen that Irish golf was going to become this strong.
“You have got to take your hat off to the Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish PGA.
“They have made sure that boys and girls get access to finance and group training sessions while they are on the lookout for new talent. Graeme (McDowell), Rory (McIlroy) and Shane Lowry have all come through that same system.
“I watched Graeme winning the US Open and it was fantastic and it can only get better as young golfers will look up to players like him, Rory and Shane. That’s all a reflection of the work that the GUI is undertaking.”
It’s a sentimental return to Carnoustie for Smyth who made his British Open debut on the Angus Country course in 1975 when Watson defeated Australia’s Jack Newton in a play-off to capture the first of five British Open titles.
The then 22-year old Drogheda born Smyth missed the cut with a pair of 78s while Carnoustie was no kinder to a then 46-year old when he carded rounds of 75 and 82 to also have the weekend off in the 1999 championship.
Despite being 25 over for those four rounds, Carnoustie ranks as Smyth’s favourite Open venue.
“Even though I don’t have many happy memories, Carnoustie is my favourite British Open course,” said Smyth. “I played my first British Open here in 1975 when Tom Watson won and have been back a few times and I have just enjoyed the golf course. It’s a terribly difficult course and it’s a big challenge which I love playing.”
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