By Nick Totten at Woburn
Ireland’s Des Smyth won the Travis Perkins plc Senior Masters to win for a fifth successive decade and deny England’s Carl Mason a record 24th Senior Tour victory.
The Irishman carded a three under par 69 on a blustery Sunday at Woburn to win for the first time in three years , while overnight leader Mason faltered on the back nine, coming home in 40 to card two over par.
The Englishman looked odds-on to enter the record books through nine holes as he extended his lead to three, but a disastrous four-putt double-bogey on the par five 14th to Smyth’s birdie turned things on their head and saw him trail by two.
Smyth took advantage and although he bogeyed sixteen to set up a tense finish, he rubber stamped his victory on the 18th with an emphatic closing birdie that left him feeling like Seve Ballesteros.
He said: “I felt like Seve today as he was the best at making it happen and it was one of those rounds where it did happen today. I putted much better this week having changed my putting style slightly and I could see the lines much better and that gave me the confidence to hit the putts.
“It was fantastic to win in front of these crowds and it is my fifth decade of winning, from the 70s to now and that was a goal of mine. I am really pleased to have got that.”
Smyth won his first professional title in 1979 when he won the Sun Alliance Match Play Championship, winning every decade since and still holds the record as the oldest winner on The European Tour.
Mason will hope that there will be plenty more opportunities to break the record he holds with Tommy Horton after a final round that never really got going.
He said: “Four putts on the 14th was not good. That made me unsteady on the greens unfortunately. I had some good chances out there, a couple of horseshoes but pleased with the way I played. It is a tough course and under pressure it is real tough, doesn’t get any tougher.
“Des got a couple of nice breaks and made some nice saves and I can’t complain. Normally, putting my best I would have been way ahead but just wasn’t one of those days. You can’t win them all.
In a share of third place with Argentine Adan Sowa, was England’s Gary Wolstenholme on his Senior Tour debut who picked up the biggest check of his life having been a career amateur for so many years.
“I’m delighted to have done so well this week,” said England’s most capped amateur, now a professional. “My goal at the start was to finish top ten so I could get into Casa Serena in two weeks, and I’ve done that.”
It was a tough day for the other big names on the leaderboard, with particularly disappointing rounds from David J Russell (76), Bill Longmuir (79) and Ian Woosnam (75).
The popular Welshman gave his many followers little to cheer about in the final round with three doubles alongside three bogeys – although the biggest cheer of the day may have come when he pulled his driver out on 18 to have a pop at the green and close with a birdie three.