Carl Mason will be hoping to make it three Benahavis Senior Masters titles in four years when he returns this week to the scene of the most recent of his 25 European Senior Tour victories, La Quinta Golf and Country Club.
The Englishman has a stunning record at the Benahavis Senior Masters, winning the inaugural tournament in 2009 and then again last October, with a runner-up finish in 2009 sandwiched in between.
With the tournament moved to the much earlier slot in the schedule this year, Mason believes it could be the perfect catalyst to kick-start his tenth season on the Senior Tour.
“Hopefully it will give my season a bit of a boost now, going back to a place where I have done so well and a place where I just have good feelings every time I’m there,” said the Senior Tour’s record title holder.
“I like the place a lot. You get to stay on site in a beautiful hotel and the staff and the people there are really friendly, so I always enjoy myself. I always have good vibes about La Quinta.
“Obviously it has come around a lot quicker this time with the change of date, so hopefully that will be to my advantage. And who knows, if I play like I have done in the past few years here, hopefully I can put myself in with a chance again.”
Mason could not make an impression at the top of the leaderboard at the season-opening Mallorca Open Senior two weeks ago, finishing 27th as Gary Wolstenholme emerged victorious, but the two-time European Tour winner is hoping the work he has put in since will pay off this week.
“I wasn’t too disappointed with my overall game in Mallorca, but I putted poorly and that’s not normally a problem for me so I’ve been working hard on that since,” he said.
“I’m feeling a bit better now after a bit of practice. I think it’s just a lack of tour time and hopefully it will come good in Benahavis.
“I still very much love competitive golf and I miss it during the break,” he continued. “I feel like I’ll be glad to play proper competitive golf because it’s a long break and after another two week break after Mallorca, it makes me even keener to get back playing now.”
Mason has won six times in total on Spanish soil on the Senior Tour and also claimed his maiden European Tour title in the Open de Andalucía in 1994.
The 58 year old will be among a strong Senior Tour field competing for an increased prize fund of €200,000 – a rise of €20,000 from 2011 – for the fourth edition of the tournament on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Former Ryder Cup Captain Mark James will be searching for his first win since 2009 as he returns to the venue where he sealed his best result of last year, when he finished tied second behind Mason.
Amongst the local favourites at La Quinta will be the former Ryder Cup star who designed the course over which the Senior Tour’s third tournament of the season will be played, Manuel Piñero.
Four-time Senior Tour winner Juan Quiros is also in the field, as are his fellow Spaniards José Maria Cañizares, Antonio Garrido and Miguel Angel Martin, who will make his first appearance at the Benahavis Senior Masters having turned 50 earlier this month.