Carl Mason shot a final round of 67 to win the PGA Seniors Championship at the Stoke-by-Nayland Club by six shots to secure his third win in a month of superb title conquering golf, and also register his 18th European Seniors Tour win in just over four years competing on the circuit.
The 54 year old Englishman, who began with a four shot lead at the start of play following three previous rounds of 67, swept his challengers aside with another consistent 18 holes in Suffolk, for a winning 72 hole total of 20 under par 268.
France’s Philippe Dugeny fired the best score of the tournament, a nine under par 63, to set a new record over the 6,737 yard Gainsborough Course and finish runner-up on 14 under par 274, alongside Italy’s Costantino Rocca, who closed with a 68.
On a day of fantastic crowds at the Stoke-by-Nayland Club, Mason claimed his fourth win of 2007, after previous successes at The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open in June, the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in August, and his successful retention of the European Senior Masters at Woburn Golf Club only last weekend.
“I didn’t play that great at Woburn, but I have to admit that my win here was special,” he said after collecting the shiny silver PGA Seniors Championship trophy he first lifted in 2004, once more. “It feels wonderful to win the PGA Championship for the second time in my career.”
He added: “I am very pleased with that level of consistency – I don’t think I’ve ever shot fours 67s. Four 75s maybe! But I am delighted. It’s not easy to lead for all four days – but I felt great out there. The greens were very quick but they were fantastic all four days and a pleasure to putt on.”
The €49,270 (£33,330) first prize extended his lead at the top of the European Seniors Tour Order of Merit. He has earned €340,523 (£230,254) and nearest challenger, Argentina’s Eduardo Romero, is on €241,289 (£163,219.)
“That should be enough for me to win me it, but I’ve still got four events left this season, so of course, I’ll be looking to make sure,” he said.
Playing with Rocca and South Africa’s John Bland in the final group, birdies at the first, second, fifth and seventh holes took Mason to 19 under par, only for pulled six iron into the ninth to yield a bogey in an outward nine of 33.
However, his four iron approach on the potentially card wrecking tenth hole, a 418 yard par four that is split by substantial body of water, was a shot of a champion. Mason stuck it to within five feet of the flag and although he missed the putt, a difficult hole had been conquered.
He said: “That was the only shot I was worried about. It’s a tough hole and I had a long way to go with the four iron, but I hit an absolute peach. I felt very comfortable from then on and I am very proud of the way I played. The players know that when I’m leading, I can close it out. You just have to make sure you don’t do anything stupid.”
A run of five pars flowed until he birdied the par five 16th and then birdied the 17th to move to 20 under par.
Then, in front of a packed grandstand and crowds lining the 18th green, Mason got up and down from the greenside bunker to register a par three and his fourth consecutive 67. “I was determined to do that and get another 67,” he said.
Paying tribute to Mason, Rocca, who was also runner-up to him at Woburn after losing their play-off over the 18th hole of the Duke’s Course, said: “He is like a machine and, at the moment, it is his time. I am sure my time will come.”
Outgoing champion Sam Torrance, winner in 2005 and 2006, also closed with a 68, his best score of the tournament after previous scores of 70-74-74, to finish on two under par 286.
“I played beautifully today and it’s a nice way to end the week,” he said. “My second round really put me out of contention, which was a shame as I was hoping to make it three wins in a row, but there we go. I’m off to Hong Kong this week and then I’ll be back to Scotland to defend the Scottish Seniors Open at Dalmahoy later in the month, which I’m looking forward to.”