England’s Carl Mason, the last player to win the same event on three consecutive occasions, will hope to emulate his own record this week when he bids for a hat-trick of titles in the Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open.
Mason won the English Seniors Open in 2003, 2004 and 2006 – the event was not played in 2005 – and he will now seek to repeat the feat at Golf Club Bad Ragaz, in Switzerland, having triumphed there in 2007 and 2008.
Last year, Mason equalled the course record with a round of 61 on the second day en route to an aggregate winning total of 15 under par, two strokes clear of his nearest challenger, Bill Longmuir of Scotland.
The previous year he cruised to the title by six shots from Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti, himself a back to back winner in 2003 and 2004.
The 56 year old will now bid to become the first man to win the €220,000 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open three times, and so close to within one of his fellow Englishman Tommy Horton’s record haul of 23 Senior Tour titles.
Despite struggling with a rib injury that forced him to pull out of The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard before the second round, Mason is confident ahead of his title defence after picking up his 21st European Senior Tour title in the De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship in June.
The three-time Order of Merit winner said: “It would be great to get another hat-trick of titles to go with the English Seniors Open. It has been a stop-start season for me having only played six times, but hopefully I will be OK.
“I don’t really think about equalling Tom’s record too much. But obviously it is a target, and it would be nice to defend this title and close the gap.”
Unsurprisingly, Mason feels a special affinity for Golf Club Bad Ragaz, which is set against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps mountain range and so provides one of the most spectacular settings on the Senior Tour schedule.
He said: “I enjoy playing the course and it suits my game. I think I’ve finished second, first and first. You have to be straight and shape a few tee shots. I’ve also got on very well with the greens – especially last year with the 61 – and I’ve putted well there.
“As I showed at Slaley Hall, if I putt well then my game goes well too. I’ve always felt comfortable on this course, and it’s a beautiful place with the mountains on either side. The last few years there have been some good crowds too and the atmosphere has been great.”
Other players who have mastered the tree-lined 6,183 yards, par 70 course include the 2005 champion Terry Gale of Australia and 2006 winner Juan Quiros of Spain.
Quiros and England’s Gordon J Brand both flew straight to Switzerland after playing the US Senior Open, in which Australian Greg Norman was the highest finisher of the eight-strong European Senior Tour contingent in joint fourth place.
Some of the form horses in the field include Zimbabwe’s Tony Johnstone, Ireland’s Denis O’Sullivan and Scotland’s Sam Torrance, all of whom finished in the top 20 in The Senior Open Championship presented by MasterCard at Sunningdale two weeks ago.
This year’s visit to Golf Club Bad Ragaz, located some 60 miles south of Zurich, will be the 13th since the inaugural event held there in 1997. Since then, nine players from seven different countries have taken the title, lending the event a truly international feel.