By Nick Totten at Woburn
England’s Carl Mason is on course for a hat-trick of victories at Woburn and a record 24th Senior Tour victory after moving into a two-stroke lead in the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters.
The Englishman, who won the title in both 2006 and 2007, will look to make it a hat-trick and surpass Tommy Horton as the most prolific winner the Tour has known, having tied the record earlier this year with victory in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland.
Leading after round one Mason recorded an eagle and two birdies in his first eleven holes, and after two back nine bogeys looked like upsetting an otherwise solid round, a birdie at eighteen made sure he extended his lead going into the final round.
He said: “This place has been very kind to me and I hope it continues. It is a real test and you can’t relax for one second. There is danger with every shot but I just have a nice feel for the place. And if I was to notch that 24th win, there couldn’t be a better place to do it.”
Mason won’t have it all his own way on the final day though, having to contend with a number of proven Tour winners such as Ireland’s Des Smyth and Scot Bill Longmuir who are lined up ready to pounce.
Irishman Smyth had been tied with Mason after round one, and a very steady round of 71 leaves him two behind in his quest to land his third European Senior Tour victory.
He said: “Today was a bit of a struggle as you can expect around here. Yesterday shooting a 66 everything is a breeze but I hit some poor shots today and really had to work hard for my 71. I need to try and find what I had yesterday.”
Longmuir carded a round of three under 69 on Saturday with a bogey-birdie-bogey finish that leaves him three off the lead, but to catch Mason he will have to hope for more luck on the greens.
He said: “I am still striking the ball beautifully but need to hole a few more putts. I didn’t hole anything out there today but if I can get a few to drop I’ll be right there challenging.”
It was not just the play of the leaders that caught the eye during this second round, with early fireworks in the shape of Martin Poxon’s double eagle run that saw him hole-in-one at the third and hole his second at the fourth.
The Englishman struggled other than that, but his close friend DJ Russell upon hearing news of his accomplishment went out and had a hole-in-one himself at the same hole, using it as the springboard to a six under to lie three back of Mason.
He said: “I was three under early on, then I was five, and suddenly a good round came out of it. Woburn has never been my favourite hunting ground as I tend to spend most of the day in the trees, but luckily today when I went in I had a shot out. Long may that continue.”
Defending Champion Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe also had a good day shooting 68 to lie five back on four under par alongside debutant Gary Wolstenholme, England’s most capped amateur, who shot a 72, Welshman Ian Woosnam (72) and Scot Andrew Oldcorn (71) in a share of fifth place.