Golf MCB Tour Championship: It’s an open contest, says record winner Mason

How times have changed for Carl Mason. When he made his only previous visit to Mauritius, for a family holiday around 20 years ago, it was as a good but not exceptional European Tour golfer who was still awaiting his first Tour victory.

Carl Mason

Carl Mason

Mason doesn’t remember too much about his time on the island then but he does recall being impressed by its beauty and the friendliness of its inhabitants.

Making history

That hasn’t changed at all but Mason’s list of achievements certainly has and he will arrive at the Constance Belle Mare Plage as the most successful golfer in European Senior Tour history, with 25 titles in 8 years.

The Englishman’s first win on the main European Tour did not arrive until 1994, 21 years after his tour debut. Later the same season came a second success, in the prestigious Scottish Open at Gleneagles.

‘It was a little while after that when I simply stopped enjoying the game,’ said the 58-year-old. ‘I just got fed up. I had been on tour for 25 years. I didn’t have a bad record and I had never been to qualifying school but my desire had gone.’

Mason became a rules official for a while but was not interested in returning to the tour and spent 6 years doing other things.

‘Eventually, I began to watch the Senior Tour on television,’ he explained, ‘and I started to think, I can do as well as most of those guys, and took a little more interest.

Mason joined tour in 2003

‘I joined the tour in 2003 and managed to win my second competition. My confidence returned and it went on from there. I guess I had learned how to win.’

That is an understatement. In his 8 years on the Senior Tour, Mason has picked up trophy after trophy, passing the legendary Tommy Horton’s total of 23 at El Valle in Spain in May and adding another for good measure at La Quinta in October.

Horton, now 70, was one of the first to acknowledge the achievement, first in a phone call to Mason from his home on Jersey and then in a letter.

Mason acknowledges that it is unlikely his record of wins will ever be surpassed.

‘The standard is getting better every season so it is going to become harder for anyone to win on a repetitive basis,’ he said.

Mason’s playing opportunities have been restricted this year by the recurrence of a back problem but he still sits eighth in the Senior Tour order-of-merit.

2011 MCB Tour Championship

The MCB Tour Championship represents his first tournament on Mauritius.

‘I didn’t come to the MCB Open because of commitments in Florida, where we spend around 4 months of the year. But I am making a special trip for the Tour Championship.’

He is up against some hardened campaigners and a host of multi-tournament winners.

‘Tom Lehman and David Frost must be among the favourites,’ says Mason, ‘but there are many good players. Peter Fowler has had a wonderful campaign and Barry Lane has had a great season, so who knows who will collect the trophy. Anyone is capable if it is their day.’

Article written by Neil Webber, golf journalist

Golf MCB Tour Championship: Chapman desperate to go all the way this time

A couple of beers and a few glasses of wine was all that was needed to put life back on track for Roger Chapman after suffering the disappointment of having the MCB Seniors Open cruelly snatched from his grasp 12 months ago.

The 2010 Championship

Roger Chapman

Roger Chapman

After 17 holes of near-impeccable golf in the final round on the Legend course, the 52-year-old Englishman had all but won the tournament.

Seven birdies and 10 pars had turned a four-stroke deficit to overnight leader David Frost into a two-shot advantage as the 2 men arrived at the 54th and closing hole.

Chapman opted to do what any other player in his position would have done, which was to make par, leaving his South African rival the prospect of manufacturing an unlikely eagle to force a play-off.

The Englishman played his role to perfection. Unfortunately for him, Frost ignored the script, striking 2 magnificent blows and holing a 30-foot putt to take the title battle into extra holes.

The first of these, back along the 18th, ended with a pair of birdie fours but, playing the hole yet again, Chapman’s wayward drive into deep undergrowth opened the door for Frost, who needed no second bidding. For luckless Chapman it was yet another runners-up prize to add to so many he has accumulated over a professional career spanning 30 years.

Despite the disappointment, it took only a few moments for Chapman to compose himself before, in typically sporting fashion, he commented: ‘Fair play to Frosty. He did precisely what was needed and he’s a worthy winner.’

That evening, following the presentations, Chapman and wife Cathy were invited by Frost to join his table for dinner. ‘There were eight of us and it was a really good evening,’ he reflected. ‘We had a few drinks and before the end, the scars had healed.’

Highlights of 2011

Chapman arrives in Mauritius after a satisfactory season on the European Tour where he is 10th in the order-of-merit.

‘I played 10 events on the US Champions Tour in the first part of the year and only joined the Senior Tour in August,’ he said. ‘But I started with three top 10 placings in a row – a second, a third and a sixth. It would have been nice to have won but that’s the way it goes.’

Return to Belle Mare Plage

Legend golf course

Legend golf course

Chapman has been relishing his return to the Belle Mare Plage:

‘I like the Legend course,’ he says. ‘What Marc Farry and the sponsors have done to turn a relatively minor end-of-year event, albeit a thoroughly enjoyable one, into a top championship tournament is remarkable.

‘It is a perfect venue. You cannot fault the organisation and nothing is too much trouble for the management and the staff. The place is simply top class.’

The MCB Tour Championship offers Chapman a chance to go one better than last year and to end the season with a much sought-after victory.

‘I admit that I am desperate to win,’ he said. But he acknowledges that the challenge could hardly be tougher:

‘This must be the strongest field ever to be assembled on the island,’ he said. ‘The presence of Tom Lehman adds great value to the tournament and it will be interesting to see how he fares. To be honest, almost anyone in the field is capable of winning. If you play well and get into the competition early on, you can put yourself in the running.

‘But if you open with a 73 or 74 while others are posting 67s or 68s or better, it is going to be mighty difficult to get back into contention.’

Article written by Neil Webber, golf journalist

Golf MCB Tour Championship: Frost confident ahead of Mauritius return

South African David Frost is relishing his return to Mauritius on the European Senior Tour for the 2011 season-ending MCB Tour Championship following a dramatic conclusion to his last visit to the sunshine island.

David Frost

David Frost

Frost began his 2011 campaign by defeating Englishman Roger Chapman on the second extra hole to win the Mauritius Commercial Bank Open last December, recovering from losing a four stroke lead to force a play-off with a spectacular eagle on the final hole.

Senior Tour season finale

The 52 year old returns to the magnificent Constance Belle Mare Plage from December 9-11, with the tournament taking on a new title as the Senior Tour season finale following a new four-year agreement with title sponsor Mauritius Commercial Bank.

Frost has an impressive record at Constance Belle Mare Plage, finishing tied fifth on his Senior Tour debut in 2010 before capturing his maiden Senior Tour title last year and he is eager to continue his fine run next month.

‘I feel confident returning to Belle Mare Plage,’ said Frost. ‘I have made quite a few friends amongst the Pro-Am participants over the past two years and I am looking forward to seeing them too.

Highlights of 2011

‘After not winning in Mauritius in 2010 I felt like I needed to win it in 2011, so the pressure was on me. Especially having a four shot lead over Roger entering the last round I should have won easily, but golf is funny game, a couple of shots swing can cause the leading player to go one way and the challenger can get close in a hole or two, and that is what happened . Winning the title in 2011 was sweet revenge for missing out in 2010.’

Legend golf course

Legend golf course

The two-time European Tour winner finished sixth in The Senior Open Championship at Walton Heath in July but his eagle on the 54th hole over Constance Belle Mare Plage’s Legends Course remains the highlight of his season. Having surrendered a four stroke lead to Chapman, Frost found himself two shots behind playing the last and knew he had to produce something special.

He did just that with a brilliant drive followed by a sublime three iron to 15 feet which he rolled in for an eagle three to match Chapman’s 13 under total. Frost then pounced on the second extra hole when Chapman, who had carded a stunning 65 in regulation play, made his only error of the final day, tugging his drive into the deep rough and failing to recover.

‘Starting with a four stroke advantage in the final round was a nice position to be in but Roger played really great and should have won,’ Frost admitted. ‘My aggressive play on the last hole paid off when I tried to eagle the hole to tie him. I think I would have done the same as what Roger did.

‘Had I been leading the event with one hole to play I would have played it as a par five and laid up short on the tee shot. Unfortunately for him I made the eagle to send us both into a play-off.

Legends golf course at Belle Mare Plage

‘The Legends course has some great, challenging tee shots and under the pressure you need to hit the fairways. From there it is target golf to the pins as well. The greens are a little tricky with the Bermuda grass, so you need to read the grain well.

‘I’m really looking forward to returning to Belle Mare Plage and I have decided to stay on another 4 days after the tournament to relax and enjoy some days without waking up and worrying what time I am on the tee.’

Competition for the title

One of Frost’s rivals for the MCB Tour Championship title is expected to be American Tom Lehman, who defeated him in a play-off to win the 2010 US Senior PGA Championship. Former Open Champion and Ryder Cup Captain Lehman won the Money List on the US Champions Tour this year and will be looking to round off a fine 2011 season in style in Mauritius.

In addition to the battle for the title itself, the focus will also be on the contest between the leading two players on the Senior Tour Order of Merit, Peter Fowler and Barry Lane, who are bidding to win the John Jacobs Trophy.

Fowler will take a €25,569 advantage into the final event of the season but with a prize fund of €400,000 and winner’s cheque of €60,000 on offer, Lane has every chance of overturning that lead and succeeding Boonchu Ruangkit as Senior Tour Number One.

Golf MCB Tour Championship: John Jacobs Trophy contenders in complimentary mood

Opening press conference for MCB Tour Championship

Opening press conference for MCB Tour Championship

The compliments came thick and fast at Monday’s press conference on the Constance Belle Mare Plage Legend course to launch the inaugural MCB Tour Championship.

Among those in attendance were Australian Peter Fowler, who leads the Senior Tour order-of-merit, and Englishman Barry Lane, his only rival for the John Jacobs Trophy that is awarded to the season’s top money-winner.

Just over €25,500 separates the two men in the contest for Senior Tour supremacy and with €61,000 on offer to the winner, the contest could well go all the way to the final round.

Read more on the MCB Tour Championship website.

Hublot watches inspire culinary creativity at Blue Penny Café

Hublot watches
Hublot and Constance – elegance comes naturally

In November, exclusive Swiss watchmaker Hublot and celebrity restaurant Blue Penny Café at Constance Belle Mare Plage combined their talents to create a prestigious event. 

Invited guests had the pleasure to discover the latest creations of the prestigious Swiss group and try on the fantastic watches made by the Hublot craftsmen.

Blue Penny Café chef Frederic Goisset, executive chef Dominique Grel and food and beverage Frederic Gille created an incredible menu with wine pairing, linking the worlds of ‘haute cuisine’ and ‘haute horlogerie’.

Creative appetisers

Big bang Tutti Frutti and canapes

Big bang Tutti Frutti and canapes

During the opening cocktail, exclusively created appetisers were presented in jewelry showcases, along with a Hublot watch:

  • Caviar (an oyster in green apple jelly, with a cream of wasabi, caviar and shiso)
  • Big bang Tutti frutti (Foie gras and agar of organic vegetable, spiced crumble)
  •  Vendôme (bread crouton, shrimp tartar, coconut jelly, red capsicum tapenade)
  • Yacht club Monaco (Scallop mousse, heart of palmtree, scallop carpaccio) 

The menu 

The dinner was splendid… with names evoking Hublot watches.

Team at Blue Penny Cafe evening with Hublot watches

Great team work between kitchen, service and sommellerie

  • GMT A canneloni of tomato and local crab, spiced syrup.
    Served with Domaine des Dieux, Sauvignon Blanc 2009, South Africa

 ***

  • Vibration: Duck foie gras preserved with Port jelly, ginger-flavoured pineapple chutney, young sprouts.
    Served with Alsace, Pinot Gris ‘Cuvée Albert’, Albert Mann 2009, France

***

  • Submarine: Back of pan-seared codfish lemon and shellfish condiment with smoked herring row.
    Served with Châteauneuf du Pape “La Crau” – Domaine du vieux télégraphe 2005, France

***

Hublot watch and appetiser

Haute cuisine meets haute horlogerie

  • Amplitude: Lamb fillet in a crust of mild chili, the chop in a spicy kofta, pimientodel piquillo stuffed with potato chutney, a jus flavoured with Pata Negra ham.
    Served with Vriesenhof Pinot Noir 2003, South Africa

***

  • Carat: Creamy poppy and raspberry dessert, raspberry sherbet.
    Served with Rhum Nation Demerarra 31 years old  

Before dessert, guests were served the most exclusive cheeses in Switzerland including an incredible Gruyère made by Hublot CEO Mr Biver, that he wished to share with guests at  this remarkable evening.

The event was a wonderful occasion for invited guests to discover or re-discover Blue Penny Café, the temple of food and wine in Mauritius.

Special offer: Green fees free of charge at Mauritius Links and Legend golf courses in 2012

Links golf course

Links golf course

Experienced and novice golfers can enjoy this fabulous offer during 2012.

Green fees at both the Links and Legend golf courses are free of charge to all guests of Constance Belle Mare Plage and Constance Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius from 1 January – 31 December 2012.

Club cars at the Links golf course are also free of charge to residents of both resorts throughout 2012.

Constance championship golf courses

Constance Hotels Experience has 3 championship golf courses in the Indian Ocean – 2 in Mauritius and 1 in the Seychelles.

Each 18-hole golf course is a real challenge for professional and amateur golfers alike, recognised by the PGA and various other federations.

The 2 courses in Mauritius were conceived to host international golf tournaments. Since December 2009, the Legend and the Links golf courses have hosted one of the tournaments on the European Senior Tour calendar – the MCB Tour Championship.