While the 2011 European Senior Tour season will be remembered for the performance of John Jacobs Trophy winner Peter Fowler, the campaign will also go down in history because of Carl Mason’s record breaking achievements.
Mason began the year tied with Tommy Horton’s record of 23 Senior Tour titles, following his victory in the 2010 Bad Ragaz PGA Seniors Open, and the Englishman took only three appearances in 2011 to become the outright most prolific winner in Senior Tour history.
The 58 year old finished four strokes clear of compatriot George Ryall in the OKI Open de España by Cleveland Golf/Srixon in May before returning to Spain in October to capture his 25th Senior Tour title in the Benahavis Senior Masters.
Those victories helped maintain his run of finishing inside the top ten on the Order of Merit in each of his nine seasons on the Senior Tour, ending 2011 in tenth position. Mason, who won twice in 25 seasons on The European Tour, also equalled Horton’s record of winning in nine consecutive seasons, highlighting how he has sustained his form across his Senior Tour career.
His overall Senior Tour CV makes for impressive reading, with 25 victories from 141 events, three John Jacobs Trophies in 2003, 2004 and 2007, and total earnings of €2,283, 462 – the only player to pass the €2million mark so far on the Senior Tour.
“It’s amazing what has happened to me in my nine years on the Senior Tour,” admitted Mason, whose first victory was in the 2003 Mobile Cup. “I would have been happy to win once a year, let alone three or four times, and to get to 25 titles is unbelievable. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It really has been tremendous.”
Scotsman Bill Longmuir, who joined the Senior Tour in the same year, believes Mason’s accomplishments might never be matched.
“I joined the Senior Tour about a month before Carl and I had a great start and then Carl came along and very quickly overtook me,” he said. “There’s a good reason why that happened when you analyse his game. He’s known as a good putter, and he certainly is that, but he doesn’t have a weakness and that’s why he keeps winning.
“People underestimate his ability. He’s very solid. I can’t think of a bad shot that he plays. It’s no wonder that he has won 25 times and probably should have won more. It’s a tremendous record. I can’t imagine it could happen again. He has totally dominated this Tour. I think he has a few more wins in him too.”
Former Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance, who briefly broke Mason’s dominance by winning the John Jacobs Trophy in 2005 and 2006 in the middle of Mason’s three triumphs, also paid tribute to his rival.
He said: “I first met Carl in 1968 in North Berwick and I’ve known him ever since. He’s been a good friend and a great senior golfer.
“Someone would have to play remarkably well to catch his record of 25 wins. That’s sustaining it for a long time - you can’t win seven tournaments a year. He has a fantastic record.”
Italian Ryder Cup player Costantino Rocca, who was runner-up to Mason in the 2007 Order of Merit, added: “I think he can win even more but what he has done is fantastic. I have had the chance to play with him a lot and what impresses me most is his long game and his putting.
“Maybe in 20 years someone might get close to his record but it is not easy to do what he has done and play so well for so long.”
Irishman Des Smyth said: “It is a wonderful achievement and couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. He’s like a machine. He plays such amazingly consistent golf and when he gets his putter working he’s unbeatable.”
Barry Lane, runner up to Peter Fowler in the 2011 Order of Merit, added: “It is unbelievable what Carl is done. It is difficult enough to win once or twice a year but to win as he has done, probably more than three times a year on average, really is incredible.”