Des Smyth enjoyed his first victory of 2011 with a 2-stroke win last weekend in the Van Lanschot Senior Open at Royal Haagsche in The Hague, Netherlands.
Smyth began the third and final round three strokes off the lead and appeared to be heading in the wrong direction after a couple of early 3-putts, one of which resulted in bogey. But he reversed gears and notched a birdie and eagle at the fourth and fifth holes, respectively, to climb back into contention.
Another birdie-eagle sequence resulted around the turn, followed by birdies at 13 and 14. Smyth had the lead when he bogeyed 17, but he restored his advantage with a birdie at 18. At 6-under-par 210 (71-74-65), he had two strokes on overnight leaders Peter Fowler and Tim Thelen.
"It was a crazy 65, because I opened up with two 3-putts," Smyth said. "So, at that point, I didn't fancy my chances too much. But then I sunk a 10-foot putt for par on the third hole, and after that things started happening for me."
Smyth credited Christy O'Connor, Jr., recently in New York for the annual Fitzpatrick's charity outing, with pointing out a flaw in his swing on the driving range.
"I have to thank Christy for giving me a lesson last week," Smyth said.
"My set-up was out of synch, because my right shoulder was out of position. I worked all week on getting my hips and my shoulders on the same plane, and it paid off spectacularly."
Denis O'Sullivan, at 225 (71-79-75), got a share of 42nd place.
HARRINGTON DOWN THE FIELD
Padraig Harrington finished joint-63rd in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. His 4-under-par 276 (69-67-71-69) left a 16-stroke gap between him and Fredrik Jacobson, the medalist.
Harrington was given to brief bursts of bogeyitis, including two on the back nine on Thursday, two on the front nine on both Friday and Saturday, plus a double at 13 on Saturday, as well as three bogeys over the first five holes on Sunday.
Harrington now heads home to Ireland to begin his British Open preparation.
O'NEILL SHINES IN HOOTERS TOUR
From out of the blue came Barry O'Neill, who tied for fifth place in the Texas Honing Open at Golfcrest Country Club in Pearland, Tex. The Waterford native, who played at St. Louis University, has been a Dakotas Tour stalwart in recent years and made his first Hooters Tour appearance of the year in this event.
O'Neill got off to a rocky start with three bogeys in his first seven holes, but got his game under control, so as to limit further damage. At 7-under-par 281 (73-70-69-69), he was eight strokes off the winning score posted by Nick Rousey, who won by six strokes. O'Neill earned $6,291.
Stephen Grant, a Co. Offaly native, tied for 64th place at 297 (73-73-77-74), which was good for $1,076.
Peter Lawrie grabbed a share of 18th place in the BMW Championship at Golfclub München Eichenried in Munich, Germany. His 4-round total of 9-under-par 279 (69-68-73-69) left him seven strokes off the low scores recorded by Sergio Garcia and Pablo Larrazabal (the latter won the sudden death playoff on the fifth hole).
Both Gareth Maybin (72-72) and Damien McGrane (71-73) finished two strokes on the high side of the cut line. Shane Lowry, back from the U.S. Open, shot 148 (76-72) in his European return.
Colm Moriarty finished joint-19th in the Scottish Hydro Challenge at Macdonald Spey Valley in Aviemore, Scotland. He topped three consecutive rounds of 69 off with even-par 71 to finish six strokes under at 278. Edouard Dubois shot 271 for the victory.
Hard-luck Gary Murphy missed the cut by one stroke after rounds of 67 and 74. Simon Thornton's 147 (72-75) was seven strokes on the wrong side of the cut line.
EGOLF PROFESSIONAL TOUR
Waterford's Seamus Power tied for 37th place in the Cowans Ford Open at Cowans Ford Country Club in Stanley, N.C. He carded 6-under-par 278 (68-72-67-71), which left him 13 strokes in back of medalist Brendan Gielow. Power was prone to spells of both excellent and poor play. In Friday's third round, he went 16 holes without a bogey while racking up five birdies. On Thursday, however, he managed four bogeys over a span of six holes. He earned $1,535.
A final-round 75 cost Tim Rice a shot at winning the Rusty's Travel Classic at Longhirst Hall in Northumberland, England.
Rice had limited his bogeys to just three over the initial 36 holes, in which he shot 68 and 69. He came up with four bogeys and a double in the third and final round, however, with just one birdie to offset the damage. He began the final round just one stroke off the lead. His final 212 left a 5-stroke gap between him and the low scorers.