England’s Carl Mason equalled the lowest round in European Seniors Tour history with a superb nine under par 61 to take a one stroke lead into the final round of the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open in Switzerland, where he is looking to successfully defend his title.
Mason, winner of three Seniors Tour Order of Merit titles in the last five years and the Seniors Tour’s all-time career money winner, needed something spectacular to kick-start his 2008 campaign and duly delivered by shooting two strokes lower than anyone else this season to become only the third player to shoot 61 on the Seniors Tour.
His nine under par round, comprising seven birdies and an eagle three on the 16th, catapulted him to the top of the leaderboard on ten under par 130, one stroke ahead of Scotland’s Bill Longmuir with Spain’s Domingo Hospital a further shot back on eight under par.
The 61 matched the low scores by Spain’s Juan Quiros, in the 2006 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, and England’s Bob Cameron, at the 2004 Sanremo Open. It also equalled Mason’s own lowest round as a professional, matching his 61 in the 1994 Bell’s Scottish Open on The European Tour, a title he was to go on and win.
“It was gorgeous, something special,” admitted Mason, winner of 19 Seniors Tour titles. “It was one of those days when I looked at the hole and everything went in. It was delicious.”
Mason played the front nine beautifully, reaching the turn in four under par 32. While he hit a couple of loose shots on the back nine he recovered well and birdied the 12th, then holed from 25 foot for a birdie on the 15th and hit a three wood to 15 feet on the 16th to set up and eagle three.
“When I holed that I knew it was going to be my day,” said Mason. He also finished his round with a seventh birdie of the day on the 18th.
Mason’s victory 12 months started a run which saw him win three events out of four as he charged to the top of the Order of Merit. He needs something similar if he is to climb from his current position of 34th on the money list to retain the number one spot.
“My form has not been great and I have just not got the confidence going. But I came here with good memories of the course after winning last year and hopefully this will kick-start a run for the end of the season. I know what I am capable of and just needed something like this to get me going.”
Longmuir added a 66 to his opening 65 to lie just one behind on 131, nine under par, while Hospital carded a 67.