Carl Mason will be chasing the second biggest first prize on the 2006 European Seniors Tour – and along with it the chance to reach the milestone of €1 million in career earnings - when he defends his title at this week’s FIRSTPLUS Wales Seniors Open at the Vale Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort near Cardiff.
The 2003 and 2004 European Seniors Tour Order of Merit champion won by five shots last year at Royal St David’s in Harlech but to repeat that feat he will have to overcome a tremendous field that includes Eamonn Darcy, Bernard Gallacher, Tony Johnstone, Manuel Piňero, Jose Rivero, Des Smyth as well as Sam Torrance, who travels to Wales attempting to add to his Seniors title haul.
Mason achieved his 11th Seniors Tour victory when he closed with a four under par 65 to finish five shots in front of Charles and Denis O’Sullivan at last year’s championship and is determined not to give up the title without a fight.
With €989,157 already in the bank from his first three seasons on the Seniors Tour, Mason needs only a top 17 finish this week to reach the €1 million mark a week before his 53rd birthday. However Mason has his eyes fixed on the top prize of €109,366.
“The Wales Seniors Open is one of those events that we all want to win,” confirmed the Englishman. “It is always a great tournament and the prize money is such that a good performance can set you up for the rest of the season.”
Smyth, who won the Arcapita Seniors Tour Championship, will start among the favourite alongside Mason but the man they will all have to beat is former Ryder Cup Captain, Torrance, who is chasing his third victory in his last four starts.
“I’m just looking to maintain my form and then see what happens,” said Torrance. “I’m certainly playing well and I’m enjoying my golf again.”
The FIRSTPLUS Wales Seniors Open is part of the Ryder Cup Wales 2006 Summer of Golf programme that also includes The Ryder Cup Wales Challenge on the Challenge Tour and The Celtic Manor Wales Open, a key European Tour event won recently by Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.
This year’s event is the sixth in a series that stretched back to 2001. England’s Denis Durnian won the inaugural event at Royal St David’s and he was followed into the winner’s circle by Japan’s Seiji Ebihara, Scotland’s Bill Longmuir, America’s Ray Carrasco and Mason.
|T2||RUSSELL, David J||ENG||18||-3|