He has had the Midas touch for three years. Now Carl Mason goes in search of a record-setting fourth consecutive English Seniors Open victory – as well as back-to-back tournament wins following his triumph in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open – when he tees up at St Mellion for The Midas English Seniors Open.
The European Seniors Tour returns to Cornwall and to the St Mellion International Hotel and Country Club in Saltash this week – and history could be made by Mason should he triumph once more over the wonderful course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
Mason has a staggering record in this event, having won in 2003 at Hillside GC, in 2004 at Formby Hall and, after a year’s hiatus when the tournament wasn’t played, in 2006 at St Mellion.
That made him the first player in European Seniors Tour history to win the same event three times – and Mason is excited about going for a fourth win.
He said: “It would be nice to do it. It’s always nice to make records and break records, so anytime you are in with a chance of doing that, it’s special. I just hope I can go down there and play well. As an Englishman, to win your national open is makes you very proud, so of course, I’d love to do it again.”
Mason is bang in form too. Last Sunday, the 54 year old 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.
In the process, he also registered his 16th European Seniors Tour victory in just four years competing on the circuit.
“It feels wonderful. I never thought when I started out four years ago on the Tour, I’d have won 16 times. It’s incredible,” he reflected. “Winning is a great confidence booster and I’m really looking forward to getting back to St Mellion now. It’s the best preparation I could have had.”
St Mellion is certainly a place where Mason feels at home, for he also holds the course record – a 63 shot in 1995 at The Benson and Hedges International Open.
“It is a course I love,” he admitted. “That 63 in 1995 certainly ranks very highly in my best rounds of my career. I hope we get decent weather down there, as we need it. The course can be brutal if it’s wet and blowing a gale – but it’s a good test.”
A year ago, Mason was the only player under par for all three of his rounds. His closing round of one under par 71 and four under par 54-hole total proved enough to triumph by one stroke from Australia’s Stewart Ginn, whose final round of 67 took to the runner’s up position.
Mason knows he is there to be shot at as defending champion, and said he sees Ginn as one of his main rivals once more, as their tussle to close the gap on European Seniors Tour Order of Merit leader Eduardo Romero continues.
Another success at the Crown Golf owned St Mellion will advance Mason’s efforts to capture his first Order of Merit since 2004, but he is expecting a strong challenge in his pursuit of glory.
“There are a lot of good players heading there, like Stewart, who’ll be out to get me, and for the English players, it’s a tournament we all want to win. They’ll all be trying hard to win,” he said.
Other English entries confirmed for the £150,000 Midas English Open include Gordon J Brand, Tommy Horton and Maurice Bembridge, who won the Benson and Hedges International Open in 1979 at St Mellion.
The course regularly appeared on The European International Schedule until 1995, but it was not until 2005 that professional golf came back to St Mellion.
Encouraged by the success of the European Seniors Tour’s return, Crown Golf have announced they will be giving the resort a substantial £100 million overhaul, after gaining planning permission from the local council to redevelop and build an 80-bedroom hotel and 265 new golf homes, to help its efforts to secure a main Tour event in the future once more.