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Saturday, 20 September 2003
England's Carl Mason consolidated his place at the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit when he defeated Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan by one hole in a dramatic final at The Daily Telegraph/ Turismo Andaluz Seniors Match Play Championship at Los Flamingos Golf Club near Malaga.

Mason came into the match play event with a £20,486 lead over Scotland's Bill Longmuir and he extended that advantage to £33,986 after overcoming a late charge from the former Irish Amateur champion.

Mason recorded three consecutive birdies from the 13th on his way to defeating Denis Durnian in the semi-finals but he must have thought that the boot was on the other foot when O'Sullivan birdied both the 354 yard 16th and the 361 yard 17th to get back to all square. But just when it looked certain that the match would get into extra time Mason got up and down from out of a bunker and O'Sullivan three-putted from the front edge of the final green to hand the match to his English rival.

"What a dreadful way to finish," said the disappointed Irishman at the end. "I thought I had a great chance when I pegged him back at 16 and 17 but then I handed to him but hitting a poor wedge into the final green.

"It's tough to make at the moment but I'm sure I will bounce back.

Mason was equally dumfounded after a titantic tussle during which the lead changed hands on no few than six occasions.

"They always said that golf was a funny old game and I guess this proves they were right," said the Englishman. "One minute I thought I was cruising and the next I thought I would lose. All credit to Denis. He did very well to claw me back to all square. It's just a shame it ended the way it did. The match was so good it deserved a better finish than that.

"I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to win this title," added Mason who has now won £195,586 from his first nine starts on the Seniors Tour. "It felt great when I won the Mobile Cup in July but in many ways this is even better because there was so much pressure out there. All I can say is that there must be an easier way to earn a living."

Earlier in the day Mason looked as if he might have to go the whole distance when he left the 12th green of his semi-final all square with Denis Durnian but he birdied the 13th and 14th to go two ahead and added another birdie on the 15th before his opponent conceded the match after mailing to get his own birdie on the 16th.

Mason and Durnian shared nine birdies in an absorbing contest but in the other semi-final between O'Sullivan and defending champion, Delroy Cambridge, mistakes settled more holes than miracle shots.

Cambridge went one up when he made the only birdie of the match on the par five tenth but he lost the lead when he lost a ball off the tee on the 15th and in the end the decisive moment came when the Jamaican three-putted on the 17th. He also missed the green down the last and could not better O'Sullivan's regulation par.

"It was all a bit scrappy and I know I will have to play a lot better if I am going to beat Carl in the final," was the Irishman's honest appraisal of the match.

He did but not quite well enough.

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