Des Smyth perished on the Rock of Gibraltar as Spaniard Juan Quiros snatched the weather-ravaged Irish Seniors Open with a killer birdie at the last.

With Ballyliffin’s Old Links lashed by 25mph west winds and driving rain, it was the stocky Spaniard from the Straits who was the only man under par at the end thanks to a sensational finish.

Locked with Smyth playing the par-five 18th, Quiros fired a 132-yard wedge to just two feet for a closing birdie four and looked on as Smyth’s 30-yard chip and run checked up 20 feet short and missed the putt to force a play-off.

In the end the man from La Linea, 52, carded a one-over par 72 to Smyth’s 74 to finish one stroke clear on one-under par and pocket a cheque for €67,500 for his third European Seniors Tour win.

It was a gutting defeat for the Irish star, 55, who was bidding to bridge a decade-long Irish drought in the event since Joe McDermott won the 1998 title.

Dripping wet at the finish, Smyth said: “The back nine was horrendous, it was lashing rain and it was blowing a gale. It was very difficult to play golf but, in fairness to him, he hit a wonderful shot at the last.

“I was about 30 yards short and he was about 130 yards out and he hit it stiff and I didn’t get up and down. It was difficult for every player out there today.

“We were trying our heart out. We were trying to hit shots in a left to right wind and sometimes they were moving really fast to the right and sometimes they weren’t.”

Three shots clear after five holes and two clear at the turn, Smyth couldn’t shake off the dogged Spaniard in end-of-the-world conditions.

He dropped four shots in a three hole stretch from the 11th to go two behind but birdied the par five 14th to a double bogey by Quiros to edge one clear again before faltering at the finish.

Bunkered awkwardly at the 16th, he lost his lead and never got it back as they halved the 17th in bogey to go to the last with the title on the line.

Shattered to lose out, Smyth added: “I played great early on but then the rain came and made it so difficult to play. Whatever about the wind, the rain was horrendous.

“I just lost my feel coming down there. I couldn’t figure out the greens at all. I was finding it hard to swing actually and make good contact with the ball on the back nine.

“Still, I had a chance. I hit a poor pitch on that last. He hit a great shot in. I just hit too many bad shots down the back nine.

“I enjoyed my week. I’m just disappointed with the way it turned out and it’s a pity we didn’t get a better day than that but it was the same for everybody. No point in blaming the weather.”

Smyth needed a win to boost his confidence ahead of a vital period on the US Champions Tour, where he is struggling to keep his card.

Set to return there tomorrow, he said: “I think it will help me. I played a lot of good golf. Today was hard to judge. It just got too tough. We’ll see. “

Quiros punched the air after grabbing a famous victory on one of the toughest days he can remember in a 34-year career.

Before settling down to watch Spain take on Italy in the European Championships, he said: “The course was okay this morning but an hour before I started the conditions changed, the wind was coming in from the beach and it was unbelievable.

“I can’t remember the last time I played in conditions like that. But that’s golf and you have to play. The greens were perfect and the course was in perfect condition.

“In my first year on the Seniors Tour I won in Switzerland at Bad Ragaz. Then last year I won in France. And now I win here. It is one win every year so far. I am a lucky man.

“Everyone knows Des Smyth. He is a great person and a great player. It was beautiful to be on the course with a professional like Des. I played with his brother Val on the first day and he is another very nice person.

“Des took a lead of a few shots at one point but mentally you tell yourself that there are still a lot of holes to play and you tell yourself, okay, let’s see what we can do.

“Then he had bad luck on the 13th hole and made a six. But it was the same for me on the 14th.

“To celebrate, I hope Spain beat Italy tonight. I will stay here and drive to Dublin. And then tomorrow morning I will fly to Malaga. After that I will go to America for the US Senior Open.”


Irish Seniors Open, Ballyliffin (Old Links, par 71)


212 J Quiros (Esp) 71 69 72 (€67,500);

213 D Smyth (Irl) 71 68 74 (€45,000);

216 G Cali (Ita) 69 75 72; L Carbonetti (Arg) 69 76 71; D Russell (Eng) 72 70 74; S Owen (Nzl) 71 73 72; N Job (Eng) 71 73 72; G Brand (Eng) 70 70 76 (€20.865 each);

217 I Woosnam (Wal) 76 67 74; G Encina (Chi) 75 71 71; D O'Sullivan (Irl) 72 70 75; J Chillas (Sco) 72 71 74; S Torrance (Sco) 71 70 76; B Cameron (Eng) 72 74 71;

218 B Charles (Nzl) 71 75 72; D Good (Aus) 71 73 74; S Ginn (Aus) 74 77 67; R Drummond (Sco) 73 76 69; T Gale (Aus) 75 71 72;

219 S Ebihara (Jpn) 75 75 69; T Allen (Eng) 74 74 71; M Piñero (Esp) 71 74 74; A Fernandez (Chi) 75 73 71;

220 A Sowa (Arg) 72 76 72; T Charnley (Eng) 72 74 74; A Barrera (Arg) 70 72 78; L Higgins (Irl) 73 75 72; B Heuchan (Can) 73 74 73; K Tomori (Jpn) 71 76 73; K Spurgeon (Eng) 74 72 74; D Hospital (Esp) 76 67 77; C Rocca (Ita) 71 71 78; D Cambridge (Jam) 73 71 76; H Carbonetti (Arg) 74 75 71; B Longmuir (Sco) 71 70 79;

221 J Bland (RSA) 72 73 76; M Gray (Sco) 80 70 71; S Lyle (Sco) 73 73 75; A Murray (Eng) 73 72 76; E Rodriguez (Esp) 73 69 79;

222 M Bembridge (Eng) 77 74 71; P Teravainen (USA) 77 70 75; E Darcy (Irl) 77 73 72; J Heggarty (Nir) 76 75 71; C Mason (Eng) 75 70 77; E Polland (Nir) 74 75 73;

223 A Garrido (Esp) 73 77 73; T Rastall (Eng) 73 79 71; B Lincoln (RSA) 73 76 74; T Johnstone (Zim) 74 77 72;

224 M Poxon (Eng) 75 75 74; B Larratt (Eng) 74 81 69; T Price (Wal) 76 74 74; B Boyd (USA) 77 76 71; J Hall (Eng) 76 74 74; I Mosey (Eng) 80 70 74; J Rivero (Esp) 74 76 74; E McMenamin (am) (Irl) 74 75 75;

225 J Sallat (Fra) 73 72 80; J Benda (USA) 77 72 76; P Dugeny (Fra) 74 78 73; D Merriman (Aus) 72 72 81; P O'Hagan (Irl) 74 75 76;

226 M Miller (Sco) 77 76 73; P Leonard (Nir) 77 74 75; G McGimpsey (am) (Nir) 75 73 78;

227 P Oakley (USA) 78 73 76;

228 A Tapie (USA) 67 83 78; A Franco (Par) 74 72 82; T Giedeon (Ger) 73 72 83; J Rhodes (Eng) 73 74 81;

229 V Smyth (am) (Irl) 77 77 75;

230 J Bruner (USA) 78 79 73;

231 J Hoskison (Eng) 73 77 81;

241 G Hopkins (USA) 83 82 76.