England’s Carl Mason returns to the European Seniors Tour this week at the Digicel Jamaica Classic, in association with Sony Ericsson, following a two week layoff due to a back injury.
The winner of last season’s Senior Tour Order of Merit and leader of this year’s rankings pulled out of the Open de France Seniors two weeks ago just before the start of the first round.
However, having undergone plenty of treatment and with the Caribbean sun on his back the 50 year old feels he is fighting fit for the fairways at the Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay.
“My back is in good shape, so my doctor tells me. It wasn’t that serious, not like the back injury I used to have a few years ago when it went into really bad spasms. I couldn’t walk then and I’d be off for five or six weeks. I knew this wasn’t the same injury. I could do everything this time except swing the club,” said Mason.
The Englishman tasted victory on his last trip to the Caribbean for this year’s season opening Tobago Plantations Seniors Classic and came equal second in the following week’s DGM Barbados Open.
Victory in Tobago was his fourth successive win on the Seniors Tour as he won his final three events of 2003, in what was his rookie season on Tour.
“Last Saturday was the first day I did not feel any twinges in my back. I hit a few balls, not many. It’s taken its time. I am going to do a lot of swimming to help keep it lose,” said Mason.
Mason’s return is timely as he makes his debut in the US Senior PGA Championship next week.
“I played nine holes yesterday because I was feeling tired. I am still feeling tired actually due to the six hours time difference with home. At least I can get the time change out of the way this week and go straight to America feeling fresh,” said Mason.
This year marks the second year of the Digicel Jamaica Classic in association with Sony Ericsson and all the Tour’s winners so far this year have made the trip to the sun soaked holiday destination.
Gavan Levenson from South Africa, the victor in Barbados, Englishman Bob Cameron, the man who tasted victory in the Open de France Seniors, and Australian Terry Gale, who lifted the Bosch Italian Seniors Open at the weekend will all compete in Jamaica.
Gale won back to back titles in the Caribbean last year and having played so brilliantly on Sunday to win in Italy he will be one of the favourites to lift this week’s trophy.
The 57 year old birdied the final two holes at Circolo Golf Venezia to come from behind and beat England’s David J Russell. It was Gale’s sixth victory on the Seniors Tour.
Russell will also compete in Jamaica and will no doubt be hoping to make it third time lucky. He made his debut on Tour two weeks ago in France and also finished runner up so in Jamaica he would dearly love to finish one place higher to make it a remarkable three successive weeks of golf.
The relaxed Caribbean ambience allied to a top class resort at Half Moon contributed to a wonderful inaugural event last year. American Ray Carrasco triumphed by a shot from Manuel Pinero from Spain in an exciting tournament.
“We would like to thank everyone at the Half Moon Resort and the promoter ISM for their hard work in putting together an outstanding event which our members look forward to competing in,” said Andy Stubbs, Managing Director, European Seniors Tour.
“The Seniors Tour is fortunate to boast some wonderful tournaments on its schedule and there in no question that the Digicel Jamaica Classic, in association with Sony Ericsson, is one of our premier events,” added Stubbs.