Carl Mason admits he will have mixed emotions when he returns to Turnberry for The 2012 Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex from July 26-29.
The Englishman came agonisingly close to lifting the replica Claret Jug at the Ailsa Course in his first Senior Open Championship in 2003, taking a two shot lead into the 72nd hole.
However, he could only manage a double bogey six for a closing round of 67, meaning he tied with American Tom Watson on 17 under par 263.
Watson, who had famously defeated Jack Nicklaus in the ‘Duel in the Sun’ at Turnberry in The 1977 Open Championship, seized the opening, claiming his own maiden Senior Open title on the second extra hole, leaving Mason to rue his missed opportunity.
Mason managed to put that heartache behind him and went on to become the most successful player in the history of the Senior Tour, winning 25 titles and three Order of Merits, but he concedes a Senior Open Championship victory would complete his list of accomplishments on the over 50s circuit.
“I’ve got great memories of that Senior Open Championship and I’m so proud of the way I played for 71 holes,” said Mason. “It was a fantastic experience, and something that I will never forget. Of course I will always have thoughts about what could have been, but that is the game.
“I was lucky enough to play with Tom for the first two rounds and I enjoyed it tremendously. He was great to play with, and I played some fantastic golf.
“I will go there with confidence and know that I can play the course, so I’m looking forward to going back.”
He added: “The Senior Open is the one thing missing from my CV. I’m not sure if I have missed my chance – I had my best chance – and Majors don’t come around often but you just go out and play well, and enjoy it, and hope for the best.”
Mason has won at least one title in each of his nine seasons on the Senior Tour – a record he shares with Tommy Horton – and he can achieve another piece of history in 2012 by becoming the first player to reach double figures for consecutive years with victories.
Despite his disappointment at Turnberry nine years ago, the 58 year old is relishing the chance to return to one of golf’s most iconic links courses one more time, as he seeks further success on Scottish soil following the Scottish Open title he won on The European Tour in 1994.
“To go to any Major Championship course is great and The Senior Open deserves to be on a top course,” said Mason, who finished tied 27th in The 2006 Senior Open Championship over the Ailsa Course. “Turnberry is one of the leading links courses, a links course that everyone enjoys, and it is very fair. It is also in a beautiful spot.
“Scotland has been good to me - to be fair not many places haven’t recently. The Senior Open is an event we all want to try and win, and I’m sure we will all look forward to playing Turnberry.”
Discounted advance tickets to watch some of the game’s iconic names in action at Turnberry, in The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, can now be purchased online. Season passes are now available at £60 and any one day tickets at £18. They can be booked online at www.europeantourtickets.com, where other discounts and offers can also be found.
Hospitality packages are also now available at £95 per person inc VAT, which includes admittance to the course along with a three-course lunch and glass of champagne in Turnberry’s signature restaurant, 1906, reserved parking, a Championship programme and a draw sheet.
American Russ Cochran won The 2011 Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath, England, holding off the challenge of former Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia, three-time Senior Open Champion Watson and 2010 United States Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin.