Smyth captures Madeira Island Open

Sunday, March 18

MADEIRA, Portugal -- Des Smyth became the oldest winner on the European Tour when the 48-year-old clinched the Madeira Island Open on Sunday.

 Des Smyth
Des Smyth has now spread seven European Tour victories over four decades.
Smyth shot a final-round 66 to finish at 18-under 270, two strokes better than John Bickerton.

"I'm absolutely over the moon," said Smyth. "I've won in four different decades now."

Smyth is in his 28th pro season. He broke the age record set by Neil Coles at the 1982 Sanyo Open. Coles was also 48 but three weeks younger than Smyth.

Smyth last won on the tour in 1993 in a playoff at the rain-affected Madrid Open.

There was little chance of extra holes this time, however, as Smyth soon took total control despite starting the final round three strokes behind Massimo Florioli.

Shrugging off a worrying three-putt on the first hole, Smyth went on to compile an eagle and six birdies, with just one more dropped shot.

"I was very nervous on the last because it's hard to win on the tour these days, but I came out this year playing much better," Smyth said. "I've no idea why."

Smyth got some revenge on the Santo da Serra Golf Club.

"It's particularly good to win here because this course owed me one," he said. "Five years ago I four-putted the last and lost my chance, and now I've got my own back."

Bickerton had to settle for his third runner-up place on the tour, losing his way with a bogey on the 11th where he went into water.

Defending champion Niclas Fasth challenged strongly but dropped back to a share of third place, four behind, after closing with two bogeys.

He was tied with overnight leader Florioli, Massimo Scarpa and Stephen Dodd, who led briefly earlier in the final round.

Seve Ballesteros' revival during the week came to a disappointing end when he ran up a 76 to finish 15 strokes off the pace.