By CRAIG DOLCH
Special to PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – No surprise that James Mason won another PGA Winter Championship on Monday. But Jupiter’s Mark Mielke was a little shocked he also took home a trophy.
Mason shot a 4-under 68 to win the 60-and-older division of the PGA Senior Stroke Play Championship by 3 shots over Dick Mast at PGA Golf Club. Mason finished at 9-under 135 on the Wanamaker Course – meaning he is a combined 20-under in his last four rounds, winning a pair of events by a combined 14 shots.
“Am I in ‘the zone?’ Who knows what the zone is?” said a smiling Mason, a Dillard, Ga., resident who won once on the PGA Tour Champions. “I’m obviously comfortable with what I’m doing. I’m driving it in play and making some putts.”
Mielke made a 15-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Kirk Stauffer and win the 50-59 division played on the Ryder Course. Mielke and Stauffer, who were paired together, each shot 71 to finish at 1-under 143 – and both players figured their hopes of winning were also finished.
But when the three players in the final group each shot 75, Mielke and Stauffer were headed back onto the course.
“That was the kind of beauty of it,” said Mielke, who finished T4 in last year’s Senior PGA Professional Championship. “We were playing good and we figured somebody behind us was playing better, so there wasn’t really any pressure on us. I wasn’t even thinking about playing against Kirk.”
Stauffer fought back from a double bogey on the par-5 17th, when his ball landed in a footprint in a bunker, to birdie the 18th and force the unlikely extra holes.
“I must have hit a sprinkler head on my layup shot (on 17) because I never thought I was going to reach that bunker,” Stauffer said. “I also made a 6 on the (par-5) 13th from 65 yards, which was uncalled for. The only greens I missed were the par-5s.
“But I didn’t think in a million years 1-under would get into the playoff.”
Mark Brown (72), who lipped out a birdie chip on the 18th that would have won the tournament, bogeyed the hole and finished tied for third at 144 with Mitch Lowe (72) and first-round leader Gus Ulrich (75).
Mason, the PGA Teaching Professional at The Orchard Golf and Country Club in Clarkesville, Ga., had six birdies and two bogeys. Mast shot the low-round of the event, a 6-under 66 that included seven birdies.
“I didn’t make many mistakes,” said Mast. “I didn’t play for almost two years with a back injury, so I’m kind of getting back into it.”
Mike San Filippo (69) and Charlie Bolling (68) tied for third place at 139.
Mason will try to win his third consecutive event Sunday in the Senior-Junior Team Championship, where he’ll team with Tim Weinhart.
“I have a bulls-eye on my back,” Mason said. “Everybody wants to beat me.”
The PGA Winter Championships, conducted by the PGA of America, are presented by Golf Advisor and PrimeSport.
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