Saturday, 09 September 2006

Carl Mason produced a best-of-the-day 67 to storm back into contention in the European Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club, meaning the Englishman will start Sunday’s final round one stroke behind the leader, Horacio Carbonetti of Argentina.
Carbonetti birdied the 18th at the Duke’s Course for a round of 70 that moved him clear of a multinational leaderboard on five under par 139.
Mason, who is chasing his 12th European Seniors Tour victory, is in sole charge of second place on four under par followed on two under by the Australian duo of Terry Gale and Noel Ratcliffe, Spanish former Ryder Cup player José Rivero and Frenchman Gery Watine.
“That was my best putting round all year,” declared Mason, who holed from between 15 and 25 feet on four occasions.

After a frustrating season to date, Mason is eager to get back into the winner’s enclosure and keep intact his record of winning at least once every season since turning 50.

The former Tour referee reeled off four quick victories in his brilliant rookie year of 2003 and then added five more in 2004, topping the Order of Merit on each occasion. Two more titles followed in 2005 but so far this year Mason’s best finish has been runner-up to Spain’s Juan Quiros in Switzerland.

“I have not had the same consistency this year. I keep finishing inside the top ten but it’s not great. In that respect it has been a disappointment.

“I was pleased with the way I played today, especially as I have never really felt comfortable on this course. I have always felt a little restricted,” admitted Mason.

Restricted was exactly how he felt at the 18th after his tee shot ricocheted off a tree and flew right into the middle of the forest. To compound matters, his ball came to rest uncomfortably close to a large tree.

Somehow he managed to punch the ball through a tiny gap between the trees and back out into the middle of the fairway, from where he saved par.

“I had no choice but to have a go at trying to move it forward as I couldn’t go in any other direction, as I was right against the tree,” explained Mason. “Fortunately it came off. I just aimed at one tree ahead of me and I knew I just had to hook it off that tree. In the end it was a great four.”

Carbonetti did not require such heroics as he holed from ten foot for a three at the last and a round of 70. Like Mason, he dropped just one shot.

“I played very good today. If I can hit the ball straight like today and yesterday then I can win tomorrow,” he said.

Rivero, the overnight leader, was less accurate and the Spaniard finished with a 76, ten shots worse than his brilliant opening round to share third place with three others.

Of the quartet on two under Ratcliffe had the best round, negotiating the front nine in 31 before shedding a few shots and eventually signing for a 69.

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