2013 MCB Tour Championship winner – Paul Wesselingh

As Paul Wesselingh wins the 2013 MCB Tour Championship at Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius, it marks the latest chapter in the late rise of this remarkable player.

Paul Wesselingh wins MCB Tour Championship 2013

Paul Wesselingh wins MCB Tour Championship 2013

Back in 2001 Wesselingh was a club professional whose success on the regional golf circuit earned him a rare start in a European Tour event at the Belfry.

That tournament was the Benson and Hedges International Open. Wesselingh shot 78 in round one and then retired with a bad back; the winner that week was Sweden’s Henrik Stenson.

To say that both men have had quite a journey since that week is something of an understatement. Stenson has lost form, found it again, lost it again and then, this year, won both the European Tour’s end-of-season event, the DB World Championship, and the Race to Dubai as well (effectively that tour’s order of merit).

Wesselingh, by contrast, returned home to his family, continued to give lessons, sell Mars bars and tee pegs, and play the odd minor tour event. Then six years ago he began to think of the European Senior Tour.

He had first played golf aged seven but his handicap never dipped below three so he became an accountant, but desk work was not for him and he turned pro off five, happy to become a club professional. “I did give the European Tour School a couple of goes,” he said, “but I wasn’t anywhere near good enough.”

He and his wife Tracy had three young boys and Wesselingh preferred to see them grow up than travel the world chasing a golf dream. But by his late-forties he recognised that his golf swing had matured so he began to improve his fitness and get his game in tournament mode.

When he earned a card through tour school he finished second in his first event and won on his fourth start, at the 2012 PGA Seniors Championship at Slaley Hall. By the end of the year he had added another six top ten finishes and was crowned Rookie of the Year.

Many take the foot off the gas after such success, but Wesselingh had been waiting for this opportunity for years and was in no mood to coast.

He started the 2013 season by successfully defending his PGA Seniors Championship title and followed it up with victory in the Bad Ragaz Open.

“It was going so well that a few of the guys suggested I give Champions Tour Qualifying School a go,” he said. “But I decided to focus on the Order of Merit, headed to Taiwan and won the Fubon Open there.”

He arrived in Mauritius confident. The deep confidence that comes from long term success.

“I’ve trusted myself. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have attacked the 18th like I did in round two. You have to go for it at this level.

“The first year I was a little nervous and aware of being in the presence of some great players.”

But this year he has blossomed and when he faced his hero Colin Montgomerie in the final round of the MCB Tour Championship at Constance Belle Mare Plage he was ready to prove how far he had come.

Montgomerie is one of the Ryder Cup’s greatest ever singles performers. His ability to go head-to-head with an opponent and win is legendary. It meant that most of the gallery on the final day expected Monty to thrive and Wesselingh to wilt.

But neither happened. Well, they did, but the wrong way round. The Englishman had that deep confidence in his game and he remained patient on the early holes when the more famous golfer did the opposite. It was a stellar performance and all the more remarkable because he knew he was not just winning an event, but the Order of Merit.

That second trophy proves he has taken on so many of the players he had watched from afar throughout his 30s and 40s … and he had beaten them over the entire season. This was no flukey week, but one year of excellence. Little wonder he was emotional when the scale of the achievement hit him afterwards.

After victory there were scores to check, ceremonies to attend, photos to be taken, interviews to be had. It was a blur of activity, watched by his proud wife (who caddied for him all week) and his three sons.

When it was done, Wesselingh breathed a sigh of relief and asked if he could go now.

“You know what I’m going to do?” he smiled. “Same as I’ve done all week. Every morning I’ve swam in the sea, every night I’ve thrown myself in the plunge pool. I love this place.”

It’s a long way from the Belfry in 2001. 

Stenson and Wesselingh had very different weeks that year. But they’ve had very similar 2013s.

Read more

Find out more about the action from the 2013 MCB Tour Championship

Visit our website to find out about luxury golf holidays at Constance Hotels & Resorts

Follow Matt Cooper on Twitter @MattCooperGolf or visit his blog Curious About Golf

19th Hole blog rates Belle Mare Plage as top honeymoon destination

When Oliver Gunning of Your Golf Travel chose Belle Mare Plage as his honeymoon destination, he was looking for a resort that ticked all the boxes for his non-golf playing wife, as well as offering the opportunity for him to indulge in his passion for the sport.

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Legend golf course

Legend golf course

Writing on the 19th Hole blog, Oliver writes of the 5* Mauritian resort:

‘… if you are looking to take your golf clubs on honeymoon, it is hard to find a better place to do so than Belle Mare Plage. The varied activities, stunning beach side location and exceptional golf on offer make it very clear why so many come here for their golf holidays in Mauritius.’

Read the full review on the 19th Hole blog:

Find out more

 

Birdie man Frost gets away to flying start at MCB

The MCB Tour Championship could be in danger of becoming a procession if South African David Frost produces another round of golf like his opener on the Belle Mare Plage Legend course today.

David Frost at MCB Tour Championship, Mauritius

David Frost

Frost, who was runner-up in the tournament to Tom Lehman 12 months ago and had won the MCB Senior Open over the same course in 2010, was on supreme form, making nine birdies on his way to a magnificent eight-under-par 64.

The 53-year-old who spends most of his time on the US Champions Tour, had only one blemish on his card as he built up a three-stroke lead to take into the second day. That was at the tricky par-four 12th, where he pulled his approach to the left of the green and failed to get up and down.

Otherwise, it was Frost at his most confident as he birdied four of the first six holes, added another at the eighth, picked up three more in a row from the 13th and rounded the performance off with birdie number nine at the 18th.

‘I am very happy with that,’ he said. ‘I made some nice putts and I got lucky with one from 35 feet at the third. Otherwise I hit the ball close and made the putts.

The Legend golf course

‘The greens are in fabulous condition and that made putting enjoyable. The course has improved a lot over the last two years and there is not so much grain on the greens as in the past. But ‘it’s never over until it’s over and I’ve played enough to know you can’t take anything for granted in this game.

Constance Legend golf course, Mauritius

Constance Legend golf course

‘Tom had a great start last year but I managed to catch him and had a chance to tie him on the last hole, and I came back against Roger Chapman and won in a play-off in 2010. I had been leading before that but then Roger put pressure on me.

‘That’s how the game can affect you. It’s a good start but I have to keep playing and stick to my game plan.”

Steve Van Vuuren in second spot

Another South African starts the second day tomorrow, Saturday 8 December, in second spot. Steve Van Vuuren signed for a five-under-par 67 that included six birdies and he said it was the change to a belly putter that had made the difference to his game. Van Vuuren followed the advice of Ian Woosnam and tried the putter out for the first time in the South African Senior Masters and promptly took the title.

‘I switched to a belly putter last week. It was the first time I had tried it and it worked nicely again today.’

Tim Thelen in 3rd

American Tim Thelen lies one stroke back in third place, despite being less than comfortable throughout most of his round of 68.
‘I’m pleased with my score. I putted well, otherwise I would not have had a 68,’ said the three-times 2012 winner who had a mixed card of seven birdies and three bogies.

‘I couldn’t find my swing for the first nine holes and it wasn’t until the 15th that it suddenly felt good and I finished much better with birdies at 17 and 18. If I can start that way in the morning I’ll be a lot happier.’

Popular American Jerry Bruner sent out a reminder that there is still life in the old dog yet with a creditable three-under-par 69 to share fourth place with Australian Peter Fowler and Englishmen George Ryall and John Gould.

Tough start for Lehman and Chapman

But there were disappointing starts for favourite Tom Lehman and double Major winner Roger Chapman. There were five birdies for Chapman but an ugly double-bogey at the 12th spoiled a promising card and he finished at two-under, level with Barry Lane who is aiming to consolidate his position in second place in the order-of-merit.

And defending champion Lehman had a difficult time on the greens, relying on a final-hole birdie to finish with a one-under-par 71.

‘I didn’t putt well. It was as simple as that. I was playing pretty well, except for hitting a bad three-iron at 16, but all the other
bogies were three-putts. I found the greens faster than last year and it was difficult for me. But I won with a 71 in the last round a year ago so there’s a glimmer of hope.’

Catch up with all the news from the championship on the MCB Tour Championship website.

Constance Belle Mare Plage stages golf European Senior Tour in December

The European Senior Tour takes place at the Legend golf course, Constance Belle Mare Plage, this December as part of the MCB Tour Championship.

European Senior Tour Winner 2011, Tom Lehman

Tom Lehman, winner in 2011

Golf fans visiting Mauritius from 7-9 December will be able to enjoy one of the most important European golf tournament series.

Last year, this first-class tournament provided some riveting golfing action, and this year is set to be no exception.

Find out more from the MCB Tour Championship website.

Thinking of planning a holiday to Mauritius? Discover more about our two resorts on the island, Constance Belle Mare Plage and the newly revamped Constance Le Prince Maurice.

Golfer’s paradise at Constance Le Prince Maurice

Already pioneers of golf in the Indian Ocean, at Constance Hotels we’ve just launched a new deluxe golf experience at Le Prince Maurice, Mauritius.

Legends course, Constance Belle Mare Plage

Legends course

Visitors to this jewel in the Constance crown will know Le Prince Maurice attracts a discerning clientele, offering unparalleled service in a discreet and understated manner.

Guests can now enjoy a first class golf holiday at this idyllic boutique-style hotel.

Play on championship golf courses

Our 2 championship golf courses in Mauritius, the Legends and the Links, are recognised by the PGA and other federations.

Situated at Constance Belle Mare Plage, a short drive from Le Prince Maurice, these 2 courses have been hosting the MCB Tour Championship, one of the tournaments on the European Senior Tour calendar, since 2009.

Stay at Le Prince Maurice, and you’ll enjoy the following luxury golf services:

  • Unlimited green fees at the Legend and the Links golf courses
  • Blocked tee off times on Legend and Links – 8.30, 10.30 & 13.30
  • Unlimited advance bookings for tee-off times before guest arrival
  • Free dedicated Constance Le Prince Maurice club cars on each course (including GPS, upon reservation & availability)
  • Complimentary high quality golf material (Cleveland 2012) available for use
  • Shuttle available non-stop for resident golfers every hour from 7am to 7pm
  • Limousine transfer to golf courses (payable, upon reservation & availability)
  • 30 minutes complimentary course discovery with a local professional (upon reservation on either course – The Links or The Legend)
  • Weekly complimentary golf clinic with a golf pro on the hotel putting green
  • Welcome pack: tees, pitch remover, score cards & golf brochures
Le Barachois restaurant, Constance Le Prince Maurice

Dining at Le Barachois, Le Prince Maurice

The Legend course, the first of its kind in Mauritius, designed by South African champion Hugh Baiocchi, is the crowning achievement of Constance Belle Mare Plage, located along one of the most superb beaches on the island.

The Links, opened in November 2002 was designed by Rodney Wright and Peter Allis.

Find out more

 

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