By John Manley
Francis Howley failed to requalify for this year’s European Tour, so he looked westward and saw the Teardrop Tour beckoning. Howley, 29, earned $15,000 with a one-shot victory over Paul Streeter in the Ocala Classic at the El Diablo Golf & Country Club in Ocala, Fla. Howley, from Rosses Point, Co. Sligo, finished the 54-hole tournament 7 under par at 209 (70-68-71). Scattered elsewhere throughout the 62-man field were David Higgins of Waterville, Co. Kerry, who tied for 32nd place at 219 (75-71-73), and Gary Murphy of Kilkenny, who tied for 53rd at 223 (72-76-75). Higgins earned $756, while Murphy pocketed $100. The Teardrop Tour is sponsored by the equipment manufacturer of the same name and is managed by Dara O’Neill, originally of Dun Loaghaire, Co. Dublin.
For a couple days it appeared as if Des Smyth might relive his glory years, instead of marking time until he turns 50 (he turned 46 last month) and qualifies for the Seniors Tour. Smyth topped the leaderboard at the Portuguese Algarve Open through the first two rounds with a score of 6-under 138 (66-72). Reality betrayed his dreams in the third-round, however, when he posted a 76. He recovered with a 72 the fourth and final time at Le Meridien in Penina, but by then he had fallen off the leaderboard. Smyth, who’s from Drogheda, finished tied for 25th place at 2-under 286, which was 10 shots behind Van Phillips and John Bickerton. Phillips won a playoff for the title.
Eamonn Darcy and Philip Walton tied for 54th place with seven others at 3-over 291. Darcy completed rounds of 76, 70, 72 and 73, while Walton’s cards read 76, 68, 72 and 75. Farther back was Padraig Harrington, alone in 74th place at 11-over 299 (74-73-77-75). The resurrected John McHenry missed the cut by one stroke. A score of 147 would have done it for him, but he could do no better than 148 (73-75).
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