Sunday, 10 September 2006

A tearful Carl Mason captured his 12th European Seniors Tour title in the regal setting of Woburn Golf Club, closing with two birdies in his last three holes to complete a two stroke victory over Horacio Carbonetti in the European Senior Masters.

The Englishman finished with a winning 54 hole total of seven under par 209 and collected the first prize of £33,750 (€50,100) plus a £10,000 ‘Woburn Special Prize’ donated by the Duke of Bedford. 

“I am overwhelmed. This is my first win of the season and through my career I have always wanted to win at either Woburn or Wentworth, one of the great courses,” said 53 year old Mason.

It was a tale of contrasting halves for Mason, who was out in 30 after five birdies before throwing away a four-shot lead over the back nine of the Duke’s Course.

After dropping four shots between the 12th and 15th holes, the two-time European Seniors Tour Order of Merit winner summoned up considerable courage to steady the ship with a three at the par four 16th and then to finish the job with a fine birdie putt at the last for a round of three under par 69.

Carbonetti, who was competing after a two-week break in his native Argentina, was ultimately undone by a wayward drive at the 17th that resulted in a bogey. He could only manage to par the last for a round of 72 and a total of five under par 211.

The third member of the final group, Australian Noel Ratcliffe, took a six at the last that sent him spiralling down the leaderboard from third place into a share of eighth.

Spain’s José Rivero, who had bogeyed the 18th for a round of 70, benefited by moving into third spot on four under par, alongside Ireland’s Eamonn Darcy and Italy’s Giuseppe Cali, who closed with rounds of 68 and 69 respectively.

Meanwhile, Order of Merit leader Sam Torrance of Scotland and defending champion Mark James of England both charged through the field with five under par 67s to finish tied tenth and 13th respectively.

However, on a day of numerous twists and turns it was Mason who rediscovered the art of winning.

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 2006 had, until now, been a barren time.
After enduring a disappointing season by his own high standards, Mason looked to be back to his best and cruising to a comfortable triumph.

A birdie at the 409 yard eighth hole, Mason’s fifth of the day, catapulted him four shots clear of the chasing pack as Carbonetti made a double bogey six.

However, Carbonetti launched a fightback immediately after the turn by birdieing the tenth, 11th and 13th holes while the first cracks started to appear in Mason’s game.

The Englishman, who says he has often felt restricted by the tree-lined Duke’s Course, bogeyed the 12th and was again in trouble at the 13th but made a brave up-and-down save to stay one clear of the charging Argentine.

Both men were forced to take a drop at the par five 14th, after wayward drives, and neither could save par, Mason three-putting for a seven to drop back to six under alongside Carbonetti and one clear of Rivero.

Now it really was game on over the closing holes.

Carbonetti found himself one clear when Mason dropped a further shot at the treacherous 15th, statistically the toughest hole of the final day. “I thought the course was going to swallow me up and that I might finish somewhere like 12th,” admitted Mason.

The fact that it didn’t was testament to his reserves of courage and skill. “I came through in the end with a nice little finish so I am delighted,” he added.

In the glow of victory, Mason should spare a thought for Simon Owen. The New Zealander started imperiously and had six birdies to reach the turn in 29 – the lowest nine-hole score of the week – but then endured a nightmare slump, coming home in 45 for a two over par 74. 

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