Smyth grinds out good season

By Brian Keogh

Des Smyth will be the first to admit that he struggled with his swing for much of his fifth full season on the Champions Tour.

Yet the Laytown man proved that he can still grind out a score as he finished 30th on money list to ensure fully exempt status in 2008.

Smyth played 26 events this season, earning $650,981 (around €443,659) to bring his career earnings to an impressive $4.17 million.

He had two top-ten finishes by St Patrick's Day but failed to earn another one until he shared 10th in July's Senior Open at Muirfield, where Tom Watson lifted the title for the third time.

The rest of the summer was a battle for Smyth, who slipped just outside the vital top 30 on the money list before hitting a rich seam of form at the end of August.

Five consecutive top 20 finishes, including back-to-back top fives, yielded close to $270,000 and virtually ensured his place in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Sonoma in California.

Smyth finished tied for 24th in the season-ending event where Jim Thorpe successfully defended his title, winning for the third time in five years.

Thorpe birdied the last four holes for a 66 to finish three strokes ahead of Denis Watson and Fred Funk at 20-under 268.

Loren Roberts, meanwhile, held on to win the Charles Schwab Cup competition for a $1 million annuity, shooting a 66 to tie for 13th at 11-under.

Jay Haas topped the money list with $2,581,001 from Roberts, who won twice in 23 starts with 14 top ten finishes for $2,170,627.