Des Smyth's decision not to tee it up in the Irish PGA three weeks ago has had a knock-on effect in the the Senior Open at Sunningdale

His decision to take medical advice and rest a rib injury looks inspired now after he finished the opening day tied for second, just two shots behind leader Fred Funk, thanks to a four under par 66.

Smyth turned in one-under 34 but came home in three-under with birdies at the 10th, 12th, 14th and 18th with just the one dropped shot at 17.

"Four-under is a great round of golf," he said. "I'll take it any time. I'm not overconfident, I must be honest. I've had a long struggle with my swing and with my ball-striking. So I'm here, I've worked hard and I want to try as hard as I can. So I'm fighting it as I always do."

It was his lowest score on the European Seniors Tour this season and left him a stroke ahead of superstars Tom Watson and Greg Norman and the Scot Sam Torrance.

Can he go on now and win the big one?

Smyth never managed to win a major on the main tour, finishing fourth behind Watson in the 1983 Open Championship at Troon. He also fell to Watson in a play-off for the 2005 Senior Open at Royal Aberdeen.

Asked how he felt about that loss in Troon, 25 years ago, he said:"Yes, I made errors. But I know where I was in the game. I could win tournaments. I could tussle with the best. I had Sandy Lyle, Seve, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Price and Norman, Langer and Woosie.

"I knew in my heart that I could beat them on my week. But in my heart of hearts I also knew that my game was not as good as theirs."