England’s Carl Mason stormed back to the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit he has dominated for the last two seasons when he closed with a four under par 65 to claim the €113,052 (£75,000) first prize at the Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open at Royal St David’s in Harlech.
The 2003 and 2004 Seniors Tour Number One started the final round one shot behind Nick Job but consecutive birdies on the 436 yard par four first and the 376 yard par four second gave him the initiative and he went to record four further birdies and just two bogeys to finish five shots ahead of Bob Charles and Denis O’Sullivan on five under par 202.
Job slipped back to fourth place after closing with a three over par 72 and it was also a bad day for former Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance who carded a 71 to drop into a tie for fifth place with Bob Cameron and John Chillas
Mason arrived in Wales having won last week’s De Vere Northumberland Seniors Classic at De Vere Slaley Hall and he went on to record his eleventh Seniors Tour title in the space of just two years with a masterful performance during which he defied strong wind and intermittent rain by dropping just five shots over the 54 holes.
“It has been a tough week,” admitted the Englishman. “Royal St David’s is a difficult golf course at the best of times but when the wind blows like this all you can do is try to grind out pars and hope nobody gets ahead of you.
“I played beautifully,” he added. “The art of winning is all about not making mistakes. That’s something I took a long time to learn but the good news is that I seem to have learned the lesson now.”
Charles last won on the European Seniors Tour at the 1993 Senior British Open but his performance at Royal St David’s suggested he could still overhaul Neil Coles’ record (67 and 276 days) as the oldest ever winner on the Seniors Tour.
He dropped shots at the third, tenth and 12th but also carded birdies at the fourth and the eleventh to win €64,062 (£42, 500) plus the Hardys Wines Super Seniors prize awarded to the leading competitor aged 60 or over.
“Not bad for an old timer,” said the 1963 Open champion.
“I’ve had a great week but the simple fact is that Carl didn’t give the rest of us a chance.”
“He played fantastic. He hardly made a single mistake and when he did he managed to bounce straight back. It was a round to watch and admire.”
O’Sullivan’s cheque for €64,062 (£42,500) is the most he has ever won in a Seniors Tour career that has seen him win six times including at this year’s DGM Barbados Open at Royal Westmoreland.
The 57 year old former Irish amateur international from Cork began his round with a birdie on the second. He dropped shots at the third at the fourth but then battled back with birdies at the sixth, eighth and 11th before carding a five on the treacherous 427 yard par four 15th hole where he missed the fairway on the right.
“I have been working hard on my putting and it would seem to have paid off,” he said. “I’m absolutely thrilled to finish second with Bob because that’s about as good as we could do the way Carl was playing this week.”
Torrance left Harlech in an upbeat mood despite his closing 71 dropping him down one place to fourth alongside Cameron and Chillas.
“It has been a good tournament,” he said before jumping on a plane bound for the J.P. McManus Pro-Am in Ireland. “I loved the course but I just couldn’t get going. I dropped a shot at the first and my challenge petered out after that.”
Further down the leaderboard five-time Seniors Tour Number One Tommy Horton carded a fine closing 67 to share eighth place with Delroy Cambridge and Noel Ratcliffe while Scotland’s Bill Longmuir posted a similar score to tie for eleventh place alongside compatriot Martin Gray.