An unstoppable Carl Mason successfully defended The Daily Telegraph/Turismo Andaluz European Seniors Match Play Championship and regained top spot on the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit list.
After a draining week for the Mason which saw him go to the 18th in every round, the Englishman was able to enjoy a three and two victory in the final over Scotland’s John Chillas, who finished runner up for the third successive week.
Mason beat Chilean Guillermo Encina on the 19th hole in the semifinals in the morning at Flamingos Golf Club, near Marbella, before the seemingly tireless 51 year old birdied the first five holes to take charge of the final. He later closed out the match with a seven foot birdie putt on the 16th for a remarkable round of eight birdies and no bogies.
“I have played solid as a rock all day. I played some great golf this morning and the start this afternoon was unbelievable. It is just terrific to defend my title,” said Mason.
The winners’ cheque of €23,429 (£16,000) allowed Mason to overtake American Pete Oakley on the Merit list. He won the Merit list last year in his rookie season following four wins and having now claimed four titles this season he is overwhelming favourite to finish as the top ranked player once again.
“I got a bit of confidence going and I really enjoy playing this course. I think the tight matches do you no harm in the long run because you have been under pressure all the time so you are used to sticking in there,” added Mason.
He added: “It’s great to be back on top of the Order of Merit. It has been a long haul getting there”.
The Englishman beat Jamaican Delroy Cambridge in the first round on the final hole, before also going to the last in the second round against Noel Ratcliffe from Australia. In the quarterfinals he knocked out Italy’s Giuseppe Cali on the 19th.
It was another great week for Chillas, who has now finished second on four occasions in 2004. He was second in Jersey earlier in the year, and was runner up two weeks ago in the Charles Church Scottish Seniors and again in last week’s Bovis Lend Lease European Senior Masters.
He also kept a bogey off his card in the final and was five under before Mason holed the winning putt.
“Today was great. It was a good match, there were no bogies. Carl started off brilliantly, I don’t know what he had for lunch,” said Chillas, who won €16,107(£11,000).
Mason played an outstanding match against Encina to reach the final. Both players shot six under par 66, with the only mistake coming when the Chilean bogeyed the first extra hole.
They were tied at the turn before Encina went one up after a birdie on the 14th. However, an unflappable Mason squared things up with a birdie on the 15th.
In the other semifinal Chillas fired a strong front nine of three under par to form the foundation of a two and one victory over England’s Bob Cameron. The Scot later birdied 13, 14, 16 and 17 to hold onto victory.