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July 19, 2002

Des Smyth


STEWART McDOUGAL: Des Smyth 69, 5 under par in the club house. You had a 68, 69, going well.

DES SMYTH: It wasn't as easy today as yesterday. Yesterday I played practically trouble-free golf. Today it was a little different. I started out off the first seven holes I couldn't play any better. I was two under par. I could have easily been four or five the way I played. And then a few cracks started to appear, I hit in the heavy rough on 8 and made a great par. I got my birdie at 9 in which I played very well, driver, 2-iron, two putted it.

Then I punched my drive down 10, made a fantastic par.

Stood up on 11 and decided to hit a 3-wood because there's a bunker down there at 287 and it was left to right helping, but I blasted it right and ended up with a birdie. I hit a few poor shots.

Again, I bunkered it at 14. I made a great par, so I really worked hard today and I was quite happy at the end with my 69 - a different day.

Q. You achieved what you wanted?

DES SMYTH: Yes, I'm in for the weekend. Now my next ambition is stay at the top 15 and get an exemption for the next year. Anything else is a bonus.

Q. Some of the other players mentioned that the course and the fact that it sets up for people (inaudible) do you think that's a good thing and has it helped your progress?

DES SMYTH: A lot of the golf courses we play gives such an advantage to power hitters. I hit the ball a decent distance, 270 or 280, but when you're standing next to a guy that's hitting 315 yards and he's hitting a 6-iron onto a par 5 and you can't reach it, it's a huge advantage. There is no advantage for them here, if they want to take a driver they are taking the risk of hitting it in the rough and to hit it in the rough, it's a bogey. It makes a hell of a difference. So it plays right into the hands of straight hitters.

Q. Is that as it should be?

DES SMYTH: I'm not saying that it should be. It's nice for a change. That's all I'm saying. And that's the thing about links golf. It was the same last year at Lytham, it was so tight and the bunkers were so penalizing that if you just got it off target, it was a shot. It was in -- I was even -- after 14 Ray said, hit your driving iron, your 2-iron. I said, that fairway looks wide to me. I hit a 3-wood and I pulled it a little and it bounced in the bunker. Of course I said to him, you have to sacrifice yardage out there so you can hit the greens in two. And I said to Peter Baker - I was playing with - if we were playing on the tour, you wouldn't look twice at that fairway, just pull your driver and hit it, because the rough wouldn't be as penalizing as it is here. It's just a different strategy, really. You have to stick with it and be patient even though you don't always like to.

Q. You've been saying recently your game isn't in great shape...

DES SMYTH: I've played better this week. It was my iron play that was causing my problems. The last few days I was hitting great iron shots. 7 it was fantastic 4-iron. I really nailed it at the flag and I did the same at 18. I've hit some really good iron shots which I haven't been doing for some weeks.

Q. Two questions. Strategic golf you play out here, is that mentally more exhausting?

DES SMYTH: Yes, I think it is because you would love to walk up on a tee and pull out your driver and go but standing on the tee, you are tempted to do it, but you know it's not the right play. So you're sort of -- you're going against -- well, you're deciding on your better judgment, but you would rather instead of free-wheeling and go at it.

Q. Physically how are you today?


Q. No problem?

DES SMYTH: No, a little strain in my groin, but that's all. The guys in the physio have done great work for me.

Q. Do you believe you can win the Open?

DES SMYTH: I don't want to think about it really. I had a chance once-upon-a-time in 1982. I said once-upon-a-time, because that's normally the start of old stories and 1982 is once-upon-a-time. I remember being on the 12th fairway and there's only a couple of shots off the leader at that time, minus four and I said to my caddy I'm going for the flag from here on in. Now in hindsight it was the wrong decision because the golf course was so difficult that day from therein - pars actually would have tied me in the tournament. And I was so much in control of my game, but I don't regret making the decision. I had a chance and I went for it. I'm not saying I'll have a chance this week, but if I do have a chance I'll certainly go for it again.

Q. Obviously at your age you don't know how many more, if any?

DES SMYTH: I am lapping it up. I set my target to make the cut and my next one is to stay in the top 15, and I get in next year and I won't take more than that. But as I said I'm old enough to know it's going to happen on the back nine on Sunday afternoon. If you're close enough, you have a chance. If you're not, you play in as best you can and finish as high as you can.

Q. When you're playing as well as you can, do you think of (inaudible) --

DES SMYTH: No, I'm tired of playing against these young guys. I told you about that 350-yard drive, I'm fed up with it. I'm quite happy to move on.

Q. What would you say were the strengths of your game over the years?

DES SMYTH: In years gone by, putting and straight driving has been my big strength. I use a long putter, I'm very comfortable with it. I probably missed one putt that I felt I should have got all week, and today I hit a good iron shot into 4, about six or eight feet and I missed it. I don't think I've missed anything inside that. I shouldn't be saying that, I have two days to go. That's how comfortable I feel with my putter now.

Q. How long have you had this one now?

DES SMYTH: Four years.

Q. Having played out there today, how do you think Colin's is playing?

DES SMYTH: Colin is such a great player, he's been the best player I've seen in Europe. I think it's a shame he hasn't won a major. I hope he wins this week. His game deserves it. The type of golf he's capable of is fantastic; scoring average is so low. When he plays well, I don't know a better player. It doesn't surprise me when he shoots low rounds.


End of FastScripts....

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