England’s Carl Mason moved one step closer to winning his thirteenth European Seniors Tour title when he carded a battling one under par 71 to open at two shot lead after the second round of the Midas Group English Seniors Open over the Jack Nicklaus course at St Mellion in Cornwall.
Mason started the day two shots behind overnight leader Tony Allen and moved further behind when he three-putted the 418-yard par four first for a double bogey but then covered to play the next 17 holes in three under par and go into the last round two ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s Alan Mew on three under par 141.
Mew jumped up 30 places when he added a four under par 68 to his opening 75 but it was a tough day for Allen who dropped two shot at the treacherous 459-yard par four closing hole to card a 76 and drop into a share of third place alongside Ireland’s Denis O’Sullivan and South Africa’s Bertus Smith on level par 144.
Mason has recorded 13 birdies during his opening two rounds but he knows he cannot relax if he is to add to his win at last week’s European Senior Masters at Woburn.
“It incredibly tough out there,” said the winner of the 2003 and 2004 Seniors Tour Order of Merit. “I’ve had plenty of birdies but the fact that I’ve also dropped ten shots to par shows how difficult it is.
“You’ve got to concentrate like mad all the time,” he added. “There’s no margin for error at all.”
Mason trailed Allen by three when he reached the turn in one over par 37 but then fired birdies at the 524-yard par five 12th, the 403-yard par four 13th and the 427-yard par four 17th where he hit an 8-iron into 12 feet and then holed the putt to move one in front.
Moments later the leader moved further ahead when Allen hit his approach to the 18th long and then took a further four to get down.
“It was a tough way to finish,” said Allen, “but I’m still there or thereabouts and so have a chance to make amends tomorrow.
“I can’t see anyone hitting a really low round because the course is so hard and fast.”
Mew started the day in a share of 31st place but stormed through the field with a 68 that tied the best round of the tournament.
He opened brightly when he birdied both of the first two holes and got it to three under with a birdie at the 182-yard par three 11th. He went on to take five at the at the 400-yard par four 16th but then recovered with birdies on the 16th and 17th before also dropping a shot at the 18th where the hole was cut on an undulating section at the back of the green.
“I’m very pleased particularly as I haven’t been playing much over the last few months,” Mew said. “I’ve been working on improving my core strength with my coach Martin Butcher and it seems to be working because I’m hitting the ball really well.”
The steadiest round of the day came from O’Sullivan whose level par round of 72 included 19 pars, one birdie and one bogey. He carded pars at his first nine holes before hitting a sand wedge into eight feet for a birdie at the 446-yard par four tenth hole. His only dropped shot of the day came at the par three 14th where he three-putted from 20 feet.
“I’m absolutely shattered,” said the man from Cork. “It’s one of the most demanding courses we’ve played and you can’t relax at all.”
Rookie Smit came into this week’s event lying in 15th place on the Order of Merit and could claim his seventh top-ten finish of the season with a solid final round.
The South African opened with a one under par 71 and then added a 73 that included an eagle at the 545 yard second hole where he out from 30 feet.