England’s Carl Mason will be hoping to celebrate his birthday with a record-equalling 23rd Senior Tour title when he defends The De Vere Collection PGA Seniors Championship this week against a field that includes double Major Champion Sandy Lyle and debutant Barry Lane.
Lyle, who famously won The Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 1985 before claiming the Green Jacket at the Masters Tournament three years later, will be making his debut in the £250,000 event, while Lane, another stalwart of The European Tour, turns 50 three days before the start of the event and will hoping for instant success.
Mason, however, will not relinquish his title lightly and is looking to rediscover his best form recalling the memories of his win there last year.
Mason won by three shots from Angel Franco and Chris Williams at the De Vere Slaley Hall 12 months ago for his third PGA Senior Championship title, and a fourth would be the perfect birthday present as he celebrates turning 57 on Saturday, the third round of the tournament.
He has recorded two top ten finishes this season – coming fourth at the Handa Senior Masters presented by The Stapleford Forum and tied second at the Matrix Jersey Classic – but has been a little disappointed with how he has played over the last fortnight.
He was tied 39th in the Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Fáilte Ireland and then tied 40th in The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open – enabling him to go past €2 million in Senior Tour career earnings – and is aiming for an improvement in the Senior Tour’s oldest event.
“I’m really looking forward to it and I hope I can play as well as I did last year,” said Mason. “It was a good win last year – by three shots in the end – so I have good memories of the place. I was delighted with how it went last year.
“I’ve been playing quite average the last couple of weeks but you never know in this game. You just have to plod along and wait for your time to come when everything clicks into place at the same time. It’s a tough test, that course.
“Funnily enough, the course is not up there with my favourites and I was amazed I won there. But I played so well on it and if you play well you can play any course and it all clicked. You see things in a totally different light when that happens. I don’t know what sort of weather they’ve had up there but if it’s been dry like in the south that will make it tricky.
Mason, who needs one more win to equal Tommy Horton’s record of 23 Senior Tour titles, added: “It would be nice to do well on my birthday. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Senior Tour Order of Merit leader Boonchu Ruangkit, who won three consecutive titles at the beginning of the season, is in the field for the £250,000 tournament, as are Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam, the previous two Order of Merit champions who are both seeking their first win of the season.
Gordon Brand Jnr will hope to continue his rich vein of form, having won the Matrix Jersey Classic earlier this month and then finished tied ninth at the Handa Irish Senior Open presented by Fáilte Ireland and fourth at the The Ryder Cup Wales Seniors Open.
The PGA Seniors Championship was first played in 1957 and is the only Senior Tour event outside the Senior Major Championships to be played over four rounds. This will be the third year running the tournament has been held at the De Vere Slaley Hall.
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