Paul McGinley has split with caddie Darren Reynolds after a roller coaster six year relationship that brought two Ryder Cup wins and a memorable Volvo Masters triumph at Valderrama.

The pair called it a day by mutual consent following last week’s European Open at the London Club and Reynolds is hoping for some better luck when he totes the bag for former boss Roger Chapman in this week's €350,000 Irish Seniors Open at Ballybunion.

The past three and half years have been a nightmare for McGinley, 42, who has slumped from 18th in the world rankings following his 2005 Valderrama win to 180th.

Reynolds said: "We were together for six years but it was a mutual decision. We could have stayed together for a few more weeks but we will both benefit from something different.

"He just needs to listen to a different voice and different opinions. He’s playing well and I wasn’t surprised to see him up there in Wales today. There are no hard feelings and we had lunch together on Sunday. We will still see each other and I wish him all the best."

Reynold is on the lookout for a new bag on the main tour but believes Chapman can contend for victory at Ballybunion in just his second European Seniors Tour start since turning 50 in May.

Yet Ulsterman Jimmy Heggarty reckons Des Smyth is the man to beat on a course where deep rough and firm greens are set to test the elite field to the limit.

Heggarty said: “It’s tough out there. The rough is very punishing and if it gets really windy it could become impossible. It’s right up Des Smyth's street. He has loads of patience and can poke it around and make a score.”

European No1 Ian Woosnam suffered an early blow to his chances of adding the Irish Seniors Open to the Irish Open crown he claimed at Portmarnock in 1989.

The former Masters champion’s clubs were delayed in transit and he was forced to tweak a set of hire clubs just to play in the pro-am

Woosnam said: “The shafts are little whippy - but I might even drive it straighter! I have some success in Ireland, obviously winning the Irish Open at Portmarnock.

“But my back has been bad recently and I am not driving it well so hopefully I can get the long iron out and keep it on the fairway.”

Straight hitting will be vital at Ballybunion where deep rough has put a premium on finding fairways and chipping well.

Cork ace Denis O’Sullivan said: “It is hard to keep a ball on the green so you need a really good short game. The rough is so rough, all we did was look for golf balls in the pro-am yesterday.”

Ireland has 12 men in the field with top men Smyth and Eamonn Darcy fancied to see off the overseas challenge from the likes of defending champion Juan Quiros of Spain, England’s Carl Mason and Scot Sam Torrance.

Smyth said: “I played well here in the Irish Open in 2000 and finished sixth. I haven’t been playing well in recent times but if I can find my game I have got a definite chance. But I have been looking for my game for a while.”

But Darcy added: “I’d fancy Des. He plays all his golf on the links. He squeezes it out."