Record European Senior Tour winner Carl Mason rolled back the years as he put himself firmly into contention for a fourth ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship at Close House.
Mason, who lifted the title in 2004, 2007 and 2009 in a career total of 25 Tour wins, carded a second successive three-under-par 68 to ease to six-under-par and in the hunt for his first victory since 2011.
However, the 61-year-old Englishman will have to overcome man-of-the-moment Peter Fowler, whose strengthened his own pursuit of back-to-back wins with an impressive four-under-par 67 to top the leaderboard on seven-under-par at the halfway stage, one clear of Mason.
On another glorious day at the Northumberland venue, the two front runners pulled away from the chasing pack with dominant displays over the Lee Westwood Colt course.
Overnight co-leader Jean Pierre Sallat of France is holding on to third place at three-under-par after a level par 71.
As he looks to end a four-year drought, Mason, given his vast experience, is not get carried away but is content to be in contention once more.
“It’s nice to have that feeling of being there again. It’s what it’s all about but I’m not going to get too over excited until hopefully on Sunday,” he said.
“What happens over the weekend happens, but if I can keep playing and hitting the ball the way I have these first two days I’m not going to be too far away.”
Mason, who began on the 10th, plundered five birdies, gains coming at the 11th (his second), 17th, third, fourth and eighth. He dropped a shot at the 12 and also on his closing hole.
“I’m very pleased with my performance it was very solid,” he added. “I hit the ball well and kept out of trouble which was the main thing here as it is fraught with danger. It’s playing very fast and getting faster so you have got to be careful.”
Tournament leader Fowler, who won in Jersey in last week, revealed that he had been given some insight into the playing course ahead of the championship from its designer Scott McPherson.
“I played with Scott about three or four years ago when the course first opened, when we were along at Slaley Hall during the PGA Seniors.
“I spoke to him this week and he told me how he thought you should play the holes. The fairways are quite wide but if you hit it up the correct side of the fairway you can get at the pins a bit easier as the greens are quite difficult.”
The advice is paying dividends, as is an improvement in his performance in and around the greens, as he went one better than his opening round.
Fowler, also starting on the 10th, also birdied the 11th but handed it back two holes later. The Australian notched a hat-trick of birdies from the 14th to bring him level with Mason at six-under for his front nine.
On the back, he dropped a shot at the third but a brace of birdies at seven and eight gave him the overnight lead.
“I played pretty steady all the way round, despite one three putt, that was the only problem,” reflected the 56-year-old.
“I think just a few things have come well. I didn’t putt so well last year and bunker shots have been terrible for a couple of years and they’ve come right and so I’m not afraid on the greens anymore and the bunkers. I’m hitting the ball well this week, even better than last week.”
Performance of the day came from American Gary Rusnak, who carded a five-under-par 66 to move 78 places up through the field and into a share of 10th and secure his place for the weekend with ease.
The championship is one of only two tournaments on Tour with a cut, which came at eight-over-par.
That was sufficient for the likes of Sam Torrance and Des Smyth, both seven-over, and past winner Gordon J Brand on eight-over to contend for a share of the £260,000 prize fund.
However, defending champion Santiago Luna of Spain will not be taking any further part after carding his second successive 76 to be 10-over for the week.
Other casualties included Mark James, Jean Francois Remesy, Bill Longmuir and Gordon Brand Jr.
Second Round leading scores
|1||135 (-7)||Peter Fowler (Aus)||68||67|
|2||136 (-6)||Carl Mason (Eng)||68||68|
|3||139 (3)||Jean Pierre Sallat (Fra)||68||71|
|4=||140 (-2)||Philip Walton (Ire)||70||70|
|Philip Golding (Eng)||72||68|
|6||141 (-1)||Peter Scott (Eng)||69||72|
|7=||124 (lvl)||Andre Bossert (Swi)||70||72|
|Gordon Manson (Aut)||69||73|
|Malcolm Mackenzie (Eng)||72||70|
Full list of scores, entries and event information can be found at: http://pgagbi.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgagbi15/event/pgagbi15299/index.htm
for more information on the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship
For further information please contact Tournament press officer Lee McLaughlan on 07533 739260 or email [email protected]
ISSUE DATE: 12 June 2015
About The PGA
The PGA was formed in 1901 and is the world’s oldest professional golfers’ association. Based at Centenary House at The Belfry, the PGA has 7,500 members including 1,500 working overseas in 70 different countries. The PGA is one of golf’s leading bodies and committed to growing and developing the game nationally and internationally through its academies and the expertise of its professionals. The PGA, in conjunction with Samuel Ryder and The PGA of America, established the Ryder Cup Match and is the trustee of the Ryder Cup trophy.
About ISPS HANDA
ISPS is a ‘General Incorporated Association’ based in Tokyo. The organisation was founded by Japanese philanthropist, Dr Haruhisa Handa in 2006 to support charitable causes throughout the sporting world. ISPS has fostered partnerships with golf governing bodies worldwide to help develop the game at every level and promote blind and disabled golf. ISPS’s heritage in supporting blind and disabled golf and Dr Handa’s commercial and philanthropic investment in golf has formed the foundation of its wider mission for golf to become a Paralympic sport. For further information visit www.ispsgolf.com