England’s Carl Mason competes in the Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open this week hoping to move a step closer to successfully defending his European Seniors Tour Order of Merit title.
The £150,000 tournament tees off tomorrow at The Roxburghe, which has hosted the event since 2001.
In form Mason, who has triumphed three times this season, lies second on the Merit list behind American Pete Oakley, the surprise winner of last month’s Senior British Open Championship presented by MasterCard.
Mason has earned £154,661 so far this year and trails Oakley by £35,374 but the American is now focusing on playing on the US Champions Tour. This week’s winners’ cheque is worth £22,500.
“I am just keeping playing. If I play well I will get past him (Pete Oakley). I am happy with where I am at the minute. I feel I am playing well so I should have some good finishes. With five events to go if I play alright I will get past him. That is all I can do,” said Mason.
The Englishman has been paired with Scotland’s Martin Gray and compatriot David J Russell in tomorrow’s opening round.
“The course is playing okay. It is playing a lot softer than last year. It is in better shape. I am just hoping for some decent weather as the forecast is not so good. Some reasonable weather and it should be some good fun,” added Mason.
The European Seniors Tour had a week off last week and it was welcomed by the 51 year old.
He added “I did absolutely nothing last week. I had a couple of days rest and practiced a little bit, about an hour and a half each day. Hit a hundred balls and tiddled about. Been doing some stretching and swimming each day as well.”
Defending champion Terry Gale from Australia, Japan’s Seiji Ebihara, and American Ray Carrasco are some of the top names competing this week while the Scottish contingent will be led by John Chillas, Mike Miller and Bill Longmuir.
“It is always nice to be back in Scotland especially if the weather goes bad. That will help the Scots,” said Chillas, who finished equal fourth last year.
Said Chillas: “My year has been okay. I have played well in certain tournaments. I have just had some bad rounds this year. For some reason I have been in reasonable shape and mucked it up. Why I don’t really know. I keep the stats and they have not shown anything other than a couple of double bogeys. I seem to be doing things at the wrong time this year. Everything is reasonably good but there is nothing jumping out at the moment. Time will tell.”
David Huish is the only Scot to have won the title. He tasted victory in 1998 at Dalmahoy.
The Scottish Seniors Open boasts a list of past champions that reads like a Who’s Who of seniors golf with Neil Coles, Antonio Garrido, Tommy Horton (twice), Brian Huggett, John Morgan, Noel Ratcliffe, Denis Durnian and David Oakley all winning the title.
The Roxburghe, the pride and joy of owner The Duke of Roxburghe, is set in 200 acres of spectacular countryside. Designed by Dave Thomas and opened in 1997, the course follows the natural contours and features of the local area.
“For spectators the natural contours of the course make for excellent viewing and we’re all looking forward to enjoying the high standard of golf amongst some of the most picturesque surroundings in the Scottish Borders,” said The Duke of Roxburghe.