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Friday, 19 March 2010
The European Seniors Tour breaks new ground when past Formula One world champion, Nigel Mansell, hosts the inaugural Nigel Mansell Classic, presented by Sunseeker International, at his own course, Woodbury Park near Exeter, from August 22-24.

Mansell makes his Seniors Tour debut as an amateur, competing against a strong field that includes Carl Mason, Bill Longmuir and John Chillas, the three British golfers currently battling it out at the top of the Seniors Tour Order of Merit.

For the first time ever, a Seniors Tour field will also include two Chillas brothers, with 52 year old John, winner of last week's Travis Perkins Senior Masters, being joined former European Tour player, David, who turned 50 on August 19 and is making his debut on the Seniors Tour.

Southern golf fans will also be able to watch Neil Coles, the remarkable 68 year old who beat his age for the second times this season at last week's event at Wentworth Club, having closed with a championship record of 64, eight under par.

Mason and Longmuir head into the Nigel Mansell Classic, presented by Sunseeker International, having taken the Seniors Tour by storm since turning 50 earlier this summer.

Longmuir, the club professional at The London Club, was the first to reach that milestone, on June 10, and subsequently the Scot has won twice, at the Ryder Cup Wales Senior Open and the De Vere PGA Senior Championship. Two weeks ago, he also came tied for third place behind Argentina's Horacio Carbonetti.

Mason, a former Scottish Open and Turespana Master champion, has made an even more electric start to his Seniors Tour career since reaching his 50th birthday on June 25. He claimed The Mobile Cup on his second start, narrowly lost out to Tom Watson in a sudden-death play-off for the Senior British Open, presented by MasterCard and also finished second at the De Vere PGA Seniors Championship at De Vere Carden Park.

In the last of those events, Mason had to play second fiddle to Longmuir but he got his own back on his next appearance at last week's Travis Perkins Seniors Masters, finishing tied fourth, six places above Longmuir, and increasing his season's earnings to €240,841.

Englishman, Mason, and his Scottish counterpart, Longmuir, will inevitably start as favourites at Woodbury Park. However, one man they will both have to watch out for is former Scottish PGA champion, John Chillas, who jumped up to third place on the Order of Merit after winning his first Seniors Tour title at last week's event in front of record crowds at Wentworth Club.

Chillas, the former club professional at Glenbervie Golf Club, has been a model of consistency since turning 50 in the summer of 2001. Last season, he claimed seven top 10 finishes in 15 starts, a haul that enabled him to finish eighth on the Order of Merit. To date this season, he has performed even better, winning once, finishing second twice, and claiming six top tens in 13 starts.

Given his enviable consistency, it came as no surprise to when the Scot won his first Seniors Tour title at last week's Travis Perkins event at Wentworth Club and he achieved the victory in style, closing with a three under par 69 for a seven under par 54-hole aggregate of 209, one shot ahead of Ireland's Eamonn Darcy and two in front of Neil Coles.

Coles, who celebrates his 69th birthday on September 26, remains one of the finest golfers on the Seniors Tour, something he has illustrated on more than one occasion this season.

Back at the start of July, Coles beat his age by two shots while opening with a four under par 65 at the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open, held over the rugged Royal St David's course in Harlech. Last week, he went one better, storming through the field with a closing eight under par 64 that brought him in sight of winning his 16th Seniors Tour title.

Coles, the Chairman of the PGA European Tour Board of Directors, already holds the record as the oldest man to win on the European Seniors Tour, having won the 2002 Lawrence Batley tournament at the age of 67 and 276 days. No-one would bet against him extending this record still further, either this week or some time in the future.

It is against this backdrop that a second Chillas, David makes his Seniors Tour debut at this week's event in Exeter, joining former European Tour colleagues, Longmuir, Mason, Giuseppe Cail, Baldovino Dassu and Gery Watine who have all turned 50 this year.

The younger Chillas, winner of the Scottish Boys Stroke Play Championship in 1970, was a regular on The European Tour for much of the 1970s. During that time, his most successful season was undoubtedly 1974, when he finished tied for fourth at the Spanish Open and tied fifth in the French Open on his way to finishing 20th on the Order of Merit. Since then, he has also fronted several successful business enterprises, while at the same time warming up for the Seniors Tour by competing in several over-48s events in the States.

Chillas becomes the first of two Scottish golfers to make their Seniors Tour debuts over the next two week's, with former Ryder Cup captain, Sam Torrance, joining the fold in time to compete in front of his home fans at next week's Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open at The Roxburghe.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOB, NickENG18-8
T2MASON, CarlENG18-3
T2LONGMUIR, BillSCO18-3
4COLES, NeilENG18-2
5DASSU, BaldovinoITA181
6MILLER, MikeSCO18-11
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