Scot Bill Longmuir ended Carl Mason’s dominance of the event by claiming The Midas English Seniors Open by two strokes from his rival at St Mellion International Hotel, Golf and Country Club – and then spoke of how great it felt to be a winner once more after his final round of 69 secured his first victory in two years.
Starting the final round one behind Mason – he was on five under par to Mason’s six under par after a rain-delayed second round which was only completed on Sunday morning – Longmuir fired a closing 69 to deprive his principal rival of a fourth success in the event by a two shot margin.
Longmuir, three ahead at the last,could afford a three putt he took as he claimed his first victory since the Scandinavian Seniors Open in 2005, with his eight under par total of 208.
Longmuir said: “It’s a good feeling – it’s a long time since it happened. I thought I’d forgotten how to win. What made it harder was that I was up against Carl. He won last week and has had four great years in this event, so I’m really proud that I held him off.
“I could never relax because it's such a hard, demanding course, more so in this wind. I also knew Carl would put the pressure on. I was fortunate he had a bad day with the putter, but I’m very pleased with the way I putted. I had five birdies. My putting has been my major problem for a long time now, but I’m giving myself more chances and feel like I’m getting nearer to making them.”
With his 16 year old son Callum performing caddie duties in Cornwall, father and son repeated the partnership that secured the 2004 Charles Church Scottish Seniors Open.
Longmuir, who also picked up the winner’s cheque of €33,240 (£22,500), said: “It feels even better to win with Callum on the bag. He’s done really well for me this week – and a big bonus is coming his way!”
Mason, meanwhile, was quick to praise his conqueror and said: “Bill played superb golf and putted great – the best I’ve seen him for ages. He deserves it. He played wonderfully well.
“It was a tough day and I think we both did great. We had 27 holes to play, and as you know, the conditions have been horrible. I thought level par would win this week, with the weather we’ve had.”
Mason, winner of the event in 2003, 2004 and after a year’s hiatus, in 2006 at St Mellion, added: “My run of three English Seniors Open wins comes to an end – but I gave him a run and enjoyed it this week.”
However, there was consolation in the form of the €22,160 (£15,000) for his second place that means Mason has overtaken Eduardo Romero at the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit, with €241,539 in earnings to the Argentine’s €241,280.
“I’m pleased, because my goal for the season is to win the Order of Merit,” said Mason.
Australia’s David Merriman was third after signing for a one under par 71 and 54 total of 216, level par. Fellow countryman Stewart Ginn and Japan’s Katsuyoshi Tomori shared fourth place on 217, one over par.
After 39 players completed their second rounds on Sunday morning, owing to the five hours 45 minutes rain delay on Saturday that eventually ensured play was suspended for bad light at 8.20pm, and a 7.15am restart ordered, Mason emerged with a one stroke advantage after two rounds of 69.
Longmuir found himself in second spot, on five under par, after adding his own 69 to an opening 71, while Northern Ireland’s Jimmy Heggarty was third on three under par after scores of 70-71.
However, while the rain abated, the Nicklaus Course once again proved its difficulty, with a ferocious wind battering the par 72 circuit.
Other challengers such as England’s David J Russell and South Africa’s John Bland, on two and one under respectively, fell away under such duress, while Heggarty bogeyed five of the opening six holes to drop back.
So the chase for the title became a two-man battle very early into proceedings. Indeed, they were the only two players to finish under par after 54 holes.
Mason and Longmuir both got up and down on the first hole to preserve par after their approaches fell short in the gale blowing down their necks.
However, Longmuir forged ahead with birdies at holes two and three to move to seven under par. When Mason dropped his first shot of the round, on the treacherous lengthy par four sixth, and missed his birdie on the par five seventh – a four Longmuir made – the gap was three shots.
Longmuir recovered from his bogey at the eighth hole with a birdie on the ninth hole. He fired out of the left hand rough to 15 feet, and paced his putt to perfection as it toppled home for an outward nine holes of 33 to Mason’s 37.
Longmuir reeled off three straight pars on the tenth, 11th and 12th, but Mason birdied the par three 11th to reduce the lead to two shots. Longmuir duly added another two pars and when Mason bogeyed the 13th, the gap was back to three.
Over the closing holes, Longmuir and Mason traded birdies at the par five 16th to ensure a tight finish, but the Scot was not to be denied. He found the 18th green in two shots and while Mason got up and down to finish on six under par, and he duly three-putted the last, there was no chagrin or long face as he waved to the St Mellion crowds and celebrated his triumph.