IT WAS always likely to be a tough ask for Jordan Smith's second season on the European Tour to live up to his first, but the Derry Hill golfer still fancies his chances of ending the 2018 campaign on a high.

This time last year the Bowood-based player could already reflect on a spectacular debut season, including a maiden victory at the Porsche European Open and four other top-10 finishes, including at his debut Major appearance at the US PGA Championship.

This term hasn't quite lived up to those heady heights, a tied third at April's Volvo China Open being his stand-out among one of only three top-10 results.

The latest of those arrived at last weekend's KLM Dutch Open, following his tied 20th outing at the Made In Denmark event at the start of the month and Smith feels his A game is returning in time for him to make an impact at the back end of the season.

The 25 year old, who returned to the top 60 on the Tour's order of merit - the Race To Dubai - with last week's effort, has also dealt with the disruption of a change of management this year but reckons his head is clear now for the focus to return solely on his game."

"I'm happy to get a nice top 10 result under the belt after the tied 20th I had in Denmark,'' he told the Gazette & Herald.

"It's nice to start bringing those performances back.

"I've been doing a lot of work with my coach (Simon Shanks, at Bowood) and getting the swing in place and it's all starting to pay off now. It's looking good actually.''

Smith's change of management from MB Partners to the Hambric Sports stable that includes major winners Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka dragged out legally and he added: "There was a lot of stuff going on in the background away from the golf but it's all sorted now.

"It's cleared my head and I'm playing better now and it's all good.

"It's very different to last year, very up and down. There have been a couple of good results, but some not so good and it's been a big learning curve for me.

"I'll push on for next year and try and get better.

"You are always going to have a bit of a downfall, but I'm only going to come back a better, stronger golfer from it, so it's going to help in the long run that's for sure.

"It hasn't come easily to me this year. There has been a lot of grind and finding out what has been going wrong. We've learned from that and it's starting to pay off.''

Smith was returning to action at this week's Portugal Masters, with home tournaments at the Alfred Dunhill Links and British Masters looming after the Ryder Cup at the end of the month as he chases the results that will secure his place in not only the season-ending DP World Tour Championship but next year's Open Championship.

"I want to get inside that top 30 on the Race To Dubai which would get me into the Open next year,'' he added. "That's the main aim so I need one or two more good performances and that's sorted.

"You want to be in those events and compete with those guys around the world.''