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.
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.
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