England’s Carl Mason shot a final round of 65 to finish on 16 under par and win the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland by six shots, as well as register his 16th European Seniors Tour victory in just four years competing on the circuit.
Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti, England’s David J Russell and Italy’s Costantino Rocca all tied for second place on ten under par, with Scotland’s Steve Martin a shot further back.
With the beautiful Swiss Alps providing the perfect surroundings, Mason plotted his way through the tight tree-lined course with aplomb once more, having opened with rounds of 65 and 64.
He fired seven birdies and dropped only two shots in his 65, to close on 16 under par and claim his second win of 2007, after he winning the Ryder Cup Seniors Open at Conwy in June.
The opening nine holes on Sunday saw Carbonetti, Martin, Russell and Rocca all get within a stroke of Mason, who went out in level par 35, having traded two birdies with bogeys.
However, just when the chasing pack got close, Mason duly took charge of proceedings with consecutive birdies at holes ten and 11.
He blasted a drive down the tenth fairway and was left with only a short pitch, which he hit to six feet. He holed the left to right putt and did the same on the 161-yards par three 11th, rolling another one in from seven feet to get to 13 under par.
A birdie blitz then followed on holes 14, 15 and 16 – and the title was assured by two closing pars.
Afterwards, delighted Mason said: “It feels wonderful. I never thought when I started out four years ago on the European Seniors Tour, I’d have won 16 times. It’s incredible.
“The birdies on ten and 11 were crucial. They opened up the gap and things were good from there. I am really pleased with the way I played this week. My putting was very good, considering I wasn’t happy with it when I arrived, and when I did get a chance I took it.
“I don’t mind being a front-runner. It’s never comfortable but I don’t mind the feeling of it. I think it is something you do get used to. It still feels bad at times, but I know how to handle it. You have to stay calm, not do anything stupid, stay patient.
“We had great crowds supporting us and that makes it more exciting, but of course they do get in the way, and slow things up at times, but it wasn’t a problem. It was too hot to rush around! Now, I’m going to have one or two beers to celebrate.”
Mason picked up €31,500 for his latest victory to close the gap on European Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader Eduardo Romero, who has €241,280 to his immediate rival’s new total of €219,379.
It also means he heads to St Mellion for The Midas English Senior Open next week bang in form to try and win the event for a record-setting fourth consecutive time. “Winning is a great confidence booster and I’m really looking forward to getting back there now,” he admitted.
Rocca, in second spot at the start of play after his brilliant 62 on day two, was unable to reproduce those fireworks and shot a level par 70.
A winner in Switzerland 10 years ago when he captured the European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre on The European Tour, Rocca birdied the 16th and 18th holes to get back to 10 under par and earn €15,750, as did Carbonetti and Russell.
A three-putt on the last hole cost former Walker Cup player Martin a share of second, as he signed for a 70 to finish fifth on nine under par, yet the 52 year old from Dundee was happy with his three-days’ golf and performance.
Martin, who was 72nd in the Order of Merit coming into the event and moves up to 55th place, said: “It’s my best tournament of the year, so I’m pleased. I can take a lot from the way I played and challenged, because I have been struggling.
“I started off a bit shaky, bogeying the first hole, but got it back, and I’m annoyed I three-putted the last. That leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth, but it’s been a good week, so I’m happy.”
Australia’s Stewart Ginn closed with a 66 to finish among the four players tied in sixth place on eight under par. He said: “It’s been another solid week and it’s a beautiful place to play golf. I would be very happy if I could live here.”
Japan’s Katsuyoshi Tomori shot 65 and went out in 30, the best front nine of the tournament, after birdies at holes one through four, and on the eighth. Coming home, however, it was the turn of his playing partner, Northern Ireland’s Jimmy Heggarty, to post the low score. He fired 31 on his back nine in his round of 65 and credited a hot putter for his better golf.
His fellow countryman Eddie Polland shot a 74 for a 54 total of 212. He said: “I don’t know how I’m getting around at the moment. I’m waiting for an operation on my left knee to clear up some cartilage damage. It’s sore, so I can’t turn properly, and I’m not playing well. But I’m going to keep playing until I get the date for the operation.”
Scotland’s Bill Longmuir, playing with Jose Rivero and Doug Johnson, shot a level par 70 to finish on six under par and admitted he had endured another very frustrating day, summed by his ninth hole. “I hit a perfect four iron – the best shot of the three-ball – but it ran through slightly and I end up walking off with a bogey, while they got pars. It’s very frustrating.”
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