Des Smyth, who took some time to talk to IrishCentral about his picks for this week’s 3 Irish Open at the Links course in Baltry County Louth, is excited about the field taking part tomorrow.
“Well there are lots of great players here; we have Lee Westwood, Olazabal, Darren Clarke, John Daly and Padraig Harrington. There is a host of great players playing and a lot of players in the top 20 or 30 of the world here.”
Smyth has been a professional golfer since 1974. He won eight times on the European Tour, played in two Ryder Cups and was vice-Captain when The Europeans won the event at the K Club in Straffan County Kildare in 2006. Though there is a good field in action this week, Smyth likes the look of two in particular.
“You’d have to put Padraig (Harrington) in as favorite, albeit his form hasn’t been great this year, but he has played here many times and he finished second at the Irish Open here a few years ago,” the 56-year-old told IrishCentral earlier this week.
“I really fancy, as an outsider, John Daly, because John finished second last week in Italy. He loves links golf and he won the Open at St. Andrew. He has played in a few Dunhill Cups, so he is very familiar with links golf. He seems to be turning a new course and that is positive.”
Smyth also reckons the young guns might have a shot and hasn’t ruled out a challenge from some of golf’s rising stars. None spring to mind quicker than Rory Mcllroy. Could it be his week?
“It could be , he has lost a little bit of form, he obviously is a wonderful player like many of the other young players that are there, including the young chap who won the Italian open last week, the Argentinean Daniel Vancsik who is also going to be here. “
Smyth knows the course, which is a stone’s throw from where he lives, as well as anyone, and was able to provide a unique insight into what the players can expect later this week.
“Well it will all depend on the weather really. It’s got four really good par 3s, and that is one of the strengths of the golf course. It is a very linksy golf course, very fast running. If we get a bit of wind it should present plenty problems.”
The Irish weather, being what it is, has not really helped the course in the past few months. “The course is looking fantastic, but it wouldn’t be at be at its most difficult because we have had a cold Spring, and it is only starting to warm up here. The growth in the rough area where guys might drive it isn’t as severe as it was previously. So although the course is in terrific condition, I don’t think it is at its toughest at the moment.”
Smyth, who is paired with Damian McGrane and Anders Hansen Den for play in the first two rounds, is out to have a good week of golf. “It’s not too serious an event for me because I’m 56 now! I’ve been playing on the Champions tour for six years and I am on the European Seniors Tour now, really I am only playing because it is my home club!”
After he turned 50, Smyth started to play on the Champions Tour in the States, winning one tournament and enjoying very a lucrative Indian summer to his career.
The father-of-four decided to come back home full time and now plies his trade in the European Seniors Tour.
“I had a great time in America, it was the best tour I ever played - the Champions tour - and I really enjoyed it. But after six years I got a little homesick. I missed my home life and I decided I had a good run over there and it was time for me to come back home and play my golf here.”
That’s not to say Smyth, who plans to play between 16-17 events this year, doesn’t have passion for the game. Though the swing might not be as fluid as in his younger years, the mind is still as keen as ever.
“I love competition and even though I would be an enormous outsider this week, I am going to try and enjoy myself. If I can make the cut against these young dogs I will be very happy.”