Carl Mason's dreams of winning the 2003 European Seniors Tour Order of Merit moved one step closer to fruition when he defeated Spain's Manuel Pinero on the 20th hole of an epic second round match at The Daily Telegraph/Turismo Andaluz Seniors Match Play Championship at the Los Flamingos Golf Club near Marbella, Spain.
Mason squeezed past his Spanish rival when he two-putted from 40-feet for a birdie on the 536 yard par five 20th hole and moments later got another boost when he learned that two of his nearest rivals for the money title had gone out in the second round.
"This has been a good day for me," the Englishman said after studying the other results. "It's always difficult to beat Manuel because he has such a good short game and it feels even better now that I know both Bill Longmuir and John Chillas have gone out.
"I think it's time for a cool beer to celebrate," he added.
Mason came into the Match Play event about £20,000 ahead of Longmuir at the top of the Order of Merit and he now stands to increase that lead by up to £13,500 if he can go on and win the final on Saturday.
The Englishman saw the Spanish Ryder Cup player as a massive obstacle and was not in the least surprised that the match went into extra time. "The match seemed to ebb and flow for most of the morning, " he said. "Manuel got to two up when he birdied the seventh but after that there was never much in it. I can honestly say it could have gone either way."
Mason was one down when he reached the last but his Spanish rival let him in when he hit his second shot into a greenside bunker and then failed to get up and down. "That was a bit of a surprise," agreed Mason. "I expected him to get his par but, once he missed, I knew I had a great chance."
The Order of Merit leader will now go on to face Australia's Noel Ratcliffe who was two up against compatriot Ian Stanley after just three holes and went on to win 5 & 3. “He played very well,” admitted Stanley, a finalist in this event in 2000.” “My golf wasn’t great. I gave him too much of a start and couldn’t get back at him after that.”
England's Denis Durnian also progressed in the first half of the draw. He carded five birdies and an eagle on the 513 yard 15th on his way to defeating Italy’s Guiseppi Cali 4 & 2 and will go on to meet America's David Oakley, a 3 & 1 victor over Argentina's Horacio Carbonetti.
In the bottom hald of the draw, 2001 champion, Jim Rhodes, despatched Japan's Dragon Taki by 8 &7. His next opponent is Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan, who ended the hopes of Scotland's John Chillas on the 16th green,
As it turned out, it was not a good day for the Scots because Bill Longmuir, Mason's main rival at the top of the Order of Merit, also went out, defeated 3 & 1 by defending champion, Jamaica's Delroy Cambridge. Cambridge now progresses to play England's Keith MacDonald, a one hole victor over compatriot, Nick Job.
"I seem to like match play," said Cambridge. "That's the third time I have played in this tournament and the third time I have reached the quarter finals.
“Yesterday, I didn't play all that well but today was much better. It's too early to say, but I'd like to think I can go all the way again if I continue to play like this."