A hidden jewel tucked away in Cornwall, St Mellion International Hotel Golf & Country Club returns to the spotlight of the European Seniors Tour schedule this week and brings with it some unforgettable memories for many of those involved in the Midas Group English Seniors Open.
Defending champion Carl Mason will lead the field over the beautifully challenging Nicklaus Course and the Englishman feels right at home in this corner of the West Country, having set the course record of 63 in the 1995 Benson & Hedges International Open.
That was the last time St Mellion featured on The European Tour and this week the venue makes its first appearance on the seniors circuit with the £150,000 Midas Group English Seniors Open.
Mason, of course, will have another record to defend over the coming days, namely that of being the only winner of the English Seniors Open following his triumphs at Hillside Golf Club in 2003 and Formby Hall Golf Club in 2004.
Another victory on Sunday would not only complete a unique treble for a player who arrives in Cornwall in fine fettle, having captured his 12th title on the Seniors Tour, the European Senior Masters, at Woburn on Sunday.
Mason, who kept busy prior to turning 50 by working as a Seniors 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 and he protected his record of winning at least once every year since turning 50 with his success at Woburn.
Mason, now fourth on the Seniors Tour Order of Merit, was highly emotional after winning last weekend and said: “Throughout my career I always wanted to win at either Woburn or Wentworth. I’m overwhelmed.”
He added: “My game had been a bit iffy and it’s still not perfect, but it’s feeling better. It would be special to go back to St Mellion after all this time and claim my third English Seniors Open title. The players are delighted to be returning to a venue where so many of us enjoyed playing on The European Tour.”
Among them are Spain’s José Rivero, who was third in the 1991 Benson & Hedges International Open and Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone, beaten by Peter Senior in a play-off the following year.
Scotland’s Sam Torrance, the current leader of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, was third behind England’s Maurice Bembridge in the 1979 Benson & Hedges International Open.
These are just a few of the memories that will be recalled this week as a field of some of the best Senior golfers in Europe once again lock horns with Jack Nicklaus’s demanding layout, all of them in search of the £22,500 first prize at this crucial stage of the season.