Smyth trailed overnight leader Seiji Ebihara of Japan by four strokes to start the day and put together a solid round on the Rolling Oaks Course at World Woods Golf Club. The Irishman stepped onto the final tee tied with Ebihara and came out with a decisive birdie to earn fully-exempt status for 2003.
'It was a nerve racking day overall. I can't remember being that nervous for such a long period and I'm glad it's over,' said Smyth, who pocketed $42,000 for finishing first. 'Actually I was relaxed on the birdie putt at the last hole because I knew I had secured my card.'
The Irishman started strong with back-to-back birdies from the par-5 third but found trouble with a bogey at the fifth. He bogeyed the 11th but remained in contention as Ebihara struggled.
'This week was tension packed but I played extremely well,' said Smyth, who became the fourth international player to earn medalist honors at the Champions Tour Qualifying School Tournament. 'I'm glad it's over and I look forward to playing the Champions Tour next year.'
Ebihara seemed poised to take top honors after his second straight round of 65 on Thursday, but he opened the door to his challengers during the final round with one birdie and three bogeys over the first nine holes. Ebihara's problems continued on the back side with a bogey at the 11th but he managed to cling to a slim lead until his fifth bogey of the day at the par-3 16th.
Mike Smith carded a 2-under 70 to finish two shots back at 11-under-par 277 alongside Jim Ahern. Both players earned fully-exempt status for the 2003 Champions Tour season, as did David Eger, Luis Carbonetti, Dave Barr and Mark Pfeil, who finished tied for fifth at 9-under-par 279.
Eamonn Darcy earned conditional status after he missed the top-eight by one with a final-round 71. Darcy was joined by Pat McDonald in a tie for ninth at 8-under-par 280.
Ed Fiori, Jim Holtgrieve, Jay Overton, Butch Sheehan, Jerry McGee and Mike San Filippo also earned conditional status. Since Smyth, Carbonetti and Fiori will not turn 50 until next year, conditionally-exempt status was expanded. Kazunari Takahashi of Japan took the 17th spot while Rex Caldwell earned the 18th spot.
Final results from the Champions Tour Q-School finals