England's Carl Mason confirmed that he will end the season as the leader on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit when he closed with a one under par 71 to finish one shot ahead of Scotland's Bill Longmuir and Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan at the inaugural Merseyside English Seniors Open at Hillside Golf Club in Southport.
The 50 year old from Adderbury in Oxfordshire came to the last hole with a one shot advantage over Longmuir and O'Sullivan but made things hard for himself when he hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker. The scene was eerily reminiscent of his final hole at this year's Senior British Open at Turnberry. But this time Mason hit a glorious seven iron onto the front of the green and then two-putted for the par that won him £22,500 prize and confirmed his place ahead of Longmuir at the top of the 2003 Seniors Tour Order of Merit.
"What is it with me hitting tee shots into bunkers on the 18th hole," said a relieved Mason at the end. "As soon as I hit the tee shot I began to think about Turnberry but this time the lie was much better so I was able to go for the green."
"I can't begin to tell you what this means to me," added Mason.
"When I turned 50 in June I hadn't played much competitive golf for quite a a few years so I thought it would take me a while to get going. My goal then was to win a tournament before the end of the season so to win three is beyond my wildest expectations."
"I still can't really believe it is true."
Mason went on to pay tribute to the contribution made by his son, Andrew, who acted as his caddie throughout the tournament.
"It means a lot to me to win with Andrew on the bag," he said. "He has now caddied for me twice this season and I have managed to win both times. If it carries on like this I might be forcing him to give up his own golf and caddie for me full time."
O'Sullivan and Longmuir were both left to rue a handful of missed chances. The Irishman made a blistering start on his way to carding a 68. He fired three birdies and an eagle in his first five holes but dropped a shot at the 425 yard par four ninth and then missed a short putt when he seemed certain to birdie the 11th.
"I thought it might be my day for a while but I just couldn't keep it going," said the Irishman who also finished runner up to Mason at last week's Daily Telegraph/Turismo Andaluz European Seniors Match Play Championship in Spain. "Let's hope it's my turn for a win soon.
Longmuir has already won twice on this season's Tour but could never do quite enough to catch Mason. "69 was about the best I could do," he admitted. "I felt I was struggling so under the circumstances finishing second is not a bad result."
England's Tommy won the Hardys Wine Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading golfer aged 60 or over. The Channel Islander produced four birdies and 14 pars in his four under par 68 to finish two shots ahead of Neil Coles on one over par 217. Sixty nine year old Coles came close to matching his age with a two under par 70.