By Craig Dolch
Special to PGA of America
When James Mason (right) gets on a roll, get out of his way.
A year ago, he won consecutive PGA Winter Championships by a combined 14 shots. The beating continued on Tuesday as Mason shot a 67 to win the 60-and-older division of the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship by seven shots at PGA Golf Club.
Mason won once on the PGA Tour Champions, the 2002 NFL Golf Classic as a Monday qualifier and this is the Dillard. Ga., resident’s fourth PGA Winter Championship title – three of them coming in the last 53 weeks.
Mason, 68, bettered his age in every round this week after opening with 64s. He made 22 birdies and one bogey.
“I don’t know if I’ve done that before,” Mason said of beating his age in every round. “That’s about as good as I can play.”
“No, it isn’t,” said playing partner Kirk Hanefeld.
Omar Uresti (right) of Austin made an 8-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win the 50-59 division, beating Frank Bensel of Jupiter.
Surprisingly, it was the first PGA Winter Championship title for Uresti, who played more than 400 events on the PGA Tour.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was in,” Uresti said. “I haven’t played in a lot of Winter Championship events and it’s nice to win one.”
Bensel had a two-shot lead, but double-bogeyed the par-3 17th hole. Bensel’s approach to 18 almost went into the water, but he made a great par save to force the playoff.
“I hit in a bad place (on 17), then I hit a bad shot and I hit another bad shot,” Bensel said. “That hole was the tournament.”
Uresti shot a 68 on the Wanamaker Course to catch Bensel (70) at 14-under 202.
“I didn’t think I was going to catch Frank the way he was playing,” Uresti said. “That double gave me new life.”
Paul Claxton (70) of Claxton, Ga., was third at 205.
In the 60-and-older division, Mike San Filippo (67) of Hobe Sound and Mitch Camp (71) of Aurora, Ohio tied for second at 14-under 202. Dick Mast (67) of Forest, Va., was fourth at 203.
Not that any of them had any chance of catching Mason.
“I’ve been fortunate I’ve had a great career from 50 on,” Mason said. “Whatever I get from here on is gravy.”
Nunzio Ciampi of Palm City bettered his age by 14 strokes – the 82-year-old shot a 68.
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