By John Manley
As of Monday morning Darren Clarke and Des Smyth are the only two confirmed Irishmen for this week’s British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland. Both tuned up in that British province for the year’s third major in the Standard Life Loch Lomond Open in Glasgow. Clarke had the better finish of the pair, earning a share of 23rd place, with a strong final round 66. Clarke’s undoing here was the third go-round, in which he shot a three-over 74. He opened with rounds of 69 and 70. His final score of 279 was 11 shots off Scotland’s favorite son, Colin Montgomerie, a three-stroke winner.
Smyth got off to a rocky beginning, coming in with a 74. The second round was a different story, as the Drogheda man took 10 strokes off his score, finishing seven under with a 64. Smyth then shot 72 in each of the final two frames to finish tied for 37th place with a score of 282.
Those not fortunate enough to make the cut by shooting 143 or better included Paul McGinley, 144 (73-71), Padraig Harrington, 146 (73-73), John McHenry, 148 (72-76), Eamonn Darcy, 148 (73-75), and Philip Walton, 149 (73-76).
U.S. Seniors Open
Christy O’Connor, Jr. suffered something of a letdown in the first round at the Des Moines Golf & Country Club in Iowa. Coming in off the high of a victory in Maryland the previous Sunday, O’Connor hit a five-over 77 the first time around. A sense of normalcy prevailed in the subsequent rounds, as the pride of Galway shot 73, 71 and 72 to finish tied for 18th place at 293, 12 shots off the winner, Dave Eichelberger. His earnings came to $23,350. Having dedicated himself to the American seniors circuit, O’Connor is now basing himself in Naples, Fla.
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European Seniors Tour
Liam Higgins has always been able to hit the ball far, but keeping it straight has been a matter of some concern. The Waterville, Co. Kerry, veteran finished strongly in the Elf Seniors Open at Golf de Chantaco in France to earn a share of second place, three shots off Alan Tapie’s winning 200. Higgins was two over par with a 70 after the first round, but signed his name to scores of 65 and 66 to finish at 203.
Eddie Polland bogeyed the last hole of the tournament and settled for a fourth-place tie at 204 (68-69-67). Tied for 12th place with three others was Gordon Parkhill at 207 (68-69-70). David Jones took a slice of 20th place with his 209 (70-65-74). Kenny Stevenson was one of two in 36th place with a score of 213 (73-70-70), with Arnold O’Connor just behind in 38th place with his 214 (71-67-76). Dr. Art Spring returned to competition, finishing in a 43rd-place tie at 215 (72-72-71).
There used to be a time when Keith Nolan would open strong and then suffer some in the late stages of a tournament. The Wicklow man has done a flip-flop of sorts and, while he isn’t knocking on the winner’s circle door, has posted another fine finish, this time in the Greensboro Open at Sedgefield Country Club in North Carolina. After posting scores of 69, 70 and 73, Nolan sizzled on Sunday with a 67 to finish tied for 33rd place at 279, good for $1,238 in earnings. Shaun Micheel stood atop the leaderboard with a 269 at the end of competition.