England’s Carl Mason will bid to match compatriot Tommy Horton’s record of winning in four consecutive starts on the European Seniors Tour when he tees off in the £125,000 Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic tomorrow.
Mason took the Tour by storm last year in his rookie year by winning four times and claiming the Order of Merit title just four months after turning 50. He triumphed in his last three events of 2003 and will look to keep his run going in Tobago, which is the opening event of the season.
“It’s good to get going again, it’s been a long winter break. I have not played anything competitive since the UBS Cup. I have practiced and played quite a bit but you never know quite how your game will be,” said Mason, who spent two years refereeing on the circuit before switching his rule book for golf clubs. The Englishman warmed up for the first round by playing in the pro-am today with cricket great Ian Botham.
The Tobago event is being staged at the Tobago Plantations Beach & Golf Resort, and along with next week’s DGM Barbados Open, forms the Tour’s ‘Caribbean Swing’. Australian Terry Gale, winner of both events last year, has returned looking for more success.
“It is going to be difficult to follow such a great year. I keep sort of pinching myself about what happened and reminding myself. It was absolutely terrific. Hopefully I will win a couple more times this year,” added Mason, who was beaten in a play-off in last year’s Senior British Open Championship by American Tom Watson.
Horton, who is also competing this week, won in four consecutive events starting in 1997 and ending in 1998.
Also in Tobago are Scotland’s Bernard Gallacher and Bill Longmuir, England’s Denis Durnian, Spain’s Manuel Pinero and Antonio Garrido and South African Jeff Hawkes, who is making his debut on the circuit. Spain’s Victor Garcia, father of Sergio, is also playing as a sponsor invite.
Longmuir, who was second on last year’s Merit list after two victories, is making his first appearance in the Tobago tournament.
Said Longmuir: “I hope it goes as well as last year. This year I feel the same and I am looking forward to playing. There are a few new players turning 50 and that always changes the scenario a bit. You never know how they are going to do but we all know they are good players.”
The Scot enjoyed the winter break visiting Disney Land with his children and New Zealand, where he won a local 36-hole event.
“I am just looking forward to playing. The schedule looks good, there are a few new tournaments. I spent last week in Barbados so I am feeling relaxed,” added Longmuir.
Scotland’s John Chillas tees off in Tobago hoping it will be third time lucky as he has finished second in this event for the past two years. He was the leader going into the final round on both occasions.
“It’s a course I enjoy and I have been lucky enough to finish second here twice but I don’t know what the secret has been. I really wish I could answer that question. Importantly I have not run up any big numbers,” said Chillas, who was fourth on last year’s Merit list with one win.
“After a good year last season I now hope to consolidate on that. My background is as a club professional, I dabbled on The European Tour, but I now have a wonderful opportunity to play on Tour so I just plan to enjoy it. It’s a heck of a nice office,” added Chillas.