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Juan up for the Spanish at Irish Senior Open

By Peter Hutcheon

Spain's Juan Quiros was planning on making it a double celebration at Ballyliffin last night after birdying the final hole to pip Ireland's Des Smyth to the Irish Seniors Open.

"To celebrate I'm staying here and hoping Spain beat Italy tonight," he said.

Smyth had looked favourite to take the title with his ball sitting up just off the last fairway and his opponent deep in the rough and the pair locked together on level par.

But the Spaniard produced a brilliant five wood, then pitched in to a couple of feet from 122 yards out while Smyth, just short of the par five green in two, played a poor chip and left himself a 15-footer for birdie.

He missed, leaving Quiros the simple task of tapping in for a one-shot victory.

"Everyone knows Des Smyth, he's a wonderful person and it's beautiful to be on a course with a professional like Des."

Smyth said the last time he had played in conditions as bad as those on the Old Course yesterday was at the 2002 Open at Muirfield when Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie were all but blown off the course.

"It was tough going out there, but it was the same for everyone," he said.

"I got a good one away down the last but, to be fair to him, he hit a great shot in there and he deserved it."

There were only a couple of rounds under par in driving rain with the wind howling in off the Atlantic. Quiros came home in one over while Smyth, who had held a one-shot lead overnight, had a three over 74.

The pair swapped the lead throughout with Smyth opening up a three-shot lead early on, but he was pegged back when the Spaniard had three birdies in four holes.

There was a three-shot swing on the 14th which Quiros double-bogeyed with Smyth making a birdie four.

But they were level on the 17th at one under, both men dropping shots there to go down the last together on level par.

Quiros was the only man to finish below par with his birdie there.

"When I came here I though it was unbelievable to have two great links courses like this," he said.

"It is so fair. If you play well you get rewarded and if you play bad you are punished."

"I was doing fine early on but then the rain came and that made it so difficult to play," Smyth said.

"I just lost my feeling coming down there and couldn't get the greens at all.

"I was finding it hard to swing and make good contact with the ball."

Welshman Ian Woosnam finished with a three over 74 but that was good enough for a share of ninth place and he takes over at the top of the Seniors Tour Order of Merit from German Bernhard Langer.

"It's great to get to the top of the Order of Merit and I'm looking forward to getting to the British Seniors Open," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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