It was a tale of two putts for Nick Mason at the 2013 Hawaii State Open on Sunday at the Mauna Lani North Course.
Mason sunk a 25-foot birdie putt on a third playoff hole to edge defending champion Dean Wilson and take home the Hawaii State Open title and the $10,000 prize.
“I always have a good feeling playing here,” said Mason, a former member of the University of Hawaii at Hilo golf team. “Other than hitting the ball good off the tee, I just have a more relaxed feeling out here and I think that’s why I end up playing better.”
Mason held a one-shot lead on Wilson entering Sunday and shot a 4-under 68 on the final day, just enough to keep pace with Wilson’s blazing 5-under 67.
However, if not for a fortunate roll as the ball circled the cup on Mason’s final putt of regulation play to save par, the playoff never would have happened.
“That was a bad putt,” Mason said. “If you had seen my year, those putts have been lipping out in playoffs or when I’m in the lead, but I got lucky.”
Mason won the Hawaii State Open in 2008, and got close to winning in the half-decade since, but the former Vulcan wouldn’t have scripted his second title any other way.
“You want to win with a birdie,” Mason said. “Dean and I both said going into the playoff let’s win with a birdie, not a par, and it ended up like that.”
The tournament drew a field of 170 players male and female, from across the state, U.S. mainland and other countries. Wes Wailehua, executive director of Aloha Section PGA, was ecstatic about the tight finish and overall high-caliber of play during the weekend.
“When you have two excellent players like Nick and Dean who have been scraping around the course all weekend and then find themselves in a two-man playoff for the win, it’s a great way to end the tournament and adds to the legacy of the Hawaii State Open,” Wailehua said.
Second-round leader Jake Grodzinsky was visibly upset after a disappointing final-round 73 and amateur David Fink posted a 3-under 69 to finish just one stroke out of the playoff. Fink finished first among amateurs by a six-stroke margin. Next closest on the amateur leaderboard was John Ota at 3-under for the tournament.
Other notables in the professional division include: Tadd Fujikawa (+5), Max Bonk (+5), Sean Maekaw (+9) and Hunter Larson (+11).
In the Senior Professional Division, Jeff Coston finished off his weekend of consistency with an even-par 72 to finish at 8-under, one shot better than former U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson.
“I like to say I have a lot of miles on me, but I change my oil regularly and they are highway miles,” said the 58-year-old Coston. “I really played solid all week and struck the ball well. I made two bogeys on par-fives today but I was able to overcome that.”
Coston, a veteran golfer who now runs an academy out of Semiahmoo Resort in Washington, recalled some sage advice he received early on in his PGA Tour career after the win.
“My rookie year on the Tour, Gil Morgan was a big deal. I remember asking him how to be a good golfer. He turned around and told me, ‘Control your ball’ and walked away. I joke about it with him now, but he was right. Control your ball and you will play well,” Coston said.
In the Senior Amateur Division, Richard Gillette posted a 77 in his final round to finish nine shots ahead of Carl Ho.
On the South Course, professional Mari Chun posted a 1-under 71 to finish at even par to win her second Hawaii State Open. Big Island resident and defending champion Tamara Surtees — who won the tournament in her professional debut last year — shot a final-round 71 to finish in second at 8-over par.
The 2014 Hawaii State Open is scheduled for Dec. 12-14 at Mauna Lani Resort.