Thursday, 03 July 2003
England's Carl Mason suffered an inauspicious start to his new career on the European Seniors Tour when his wife, Beryl, fell and broke her ankle while watching him play his first practice round prior to his debut at the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David's Golf Club in Harlech.

The 50 year old former Scottish Open and Turespaña Masters champion was playing the seventh hole of his first practice round when his wife slipped and broke her fibia. She was rushed to a local hospital and will have to spend the next month in plaster.

"It's not the way I would have chosen to begin my new career on the Seniors Tour," said the former European Tour star. "But the good news is that Beryl has been told it is a clean break and shouldn't take too long too recover."

The Englishman is not the only man to be making his debut at this £500,000 event. He is joined former European Tour colleague, Des Smyth, who arrived in Harlech having won well over $550,000 in his first 13 starts on the Champions Tour in America.

"It's great to be back," said the Irishman, who became the oldest winner of The European Tour International when he won the 2001 Madeira Open at the age of 48 years and 34 days. He has been competing on the US Champions Tour after winning its Qualifying School last November.

"I'm thrilled to bits by how well I have started in America but I must admit I have missed my old mates. I can't wait for this event to get started."

Mason and Smyth are just two of the big names who will be chasing this week's £75,000 first prize at Royal St David's. They have been joined by 1963 Open champion, Bob Charles, defending champion, Seiji Ebihara, and Irish Ryder Cup stars, Eamonn Darcy and Christy O'Connor Jnr, all of whom have crossed the Atlantic to compete in this week's event.

O'Connor Jnr returns to competitive action after food poisoning forced him to pull out after the first round of the US Senior Open at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. "It got me good," said the jovial Irishman. "There was no way I could have played golf feeling the way I did."

The Irishman has warm memories of the tough, par 69 Royal St David's course. Last year, he closed with a fine three under par 66 to finish in a share of second place, two shots behind winner, Ebihara.

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