Aldie, VA – PGA Life Member Dick Mast made history with his win in the Middle Atlantic PGA Section Championship. The 71-year-old became the oldest winner in the event’s 97-year history. With rounds of 71-70-70, he shot his age or better in all three rounds of the event to win by three shots.
“This year, out of 23 competitive rounds, I’ve shot my age or better at 21 of them,” said Mast. It’s been a great year for him, finishing in the top-7 in all of the MAPGA events he’s played in (with two wins), a top-25 in the State Open of Virginia, and an appearance on the Champions Tour.
The Club at Creighton Farms hosted the event and proved to be a tough test of golf. Only three players finished under par on the 7,000-yard course and the Sunday/Monday rain made the course play even longer.
114 players teed off in the first round on Monday and half the field didn’t finish until Tuesday morning due to inclement weather. David Hutsell (Pine Ridge GC) and Billy Hoffman (Westwood CC) had the good tee time draw and were able to finish their first rounds on Monday. They took advantage and were tied at the top after each shot 3-under 69. Kyle Fuller (CC of Virginia), Rick Schuller (Stonehenge GC), and Chris Abbott (Kinloch GC) were only 1 shot back with their 2-under 70s.
The second round began late Tuesday morning after the first round was completed. Abbott and Ian McConnell (Robert Trent Jones GC) were the first to get to three under. Abbott bogeyed his first hole but birdied holes three and four while McConnell birdied two of his first three to get into a share of the lead at 3-under. However, neither player was able to separate themselves. McConnell made two bogies coming in to shoot even-par 72 and Abbott struggled early on the back nine but saved himself by making three birdies coming in to shoot one-under 71 and finish at 3-under.
Travis Johnson (Kinloch GC) also made his move in the second round. The MAPGA Assistant Champion shot even par 72 in the first round and shot 2-under 70 in the second round to get to one shot back. Mast didn’t tee off in the second round until 4:05pm off the tenth hole. He got off to a great start, going out in two-under 34 and adding another birdie on the second hole to grab the solo lead at 4-under. He parred the next two holes before play was suspended due to darkness. When play resumed Wednesday morning, Mast made four pars and a bogey to shoot 2-under 70 to tie Abbott at the top of the 2nd round leaderboard at 3-under par.
After the second round, the field was cut to the top 46 and ties for the final round. Mast, Abbott, and Johnson were in the final group. The leaderboard was tight with 9 players within two shots of the lead. McConnell made the early move by making birdie on the 2nd and 3rd holes to get a share of the lead. Abbott also got off to a great start by birdieing the first hole. Johnson and Mast did not get off to the start they were looking for. Johnson made double bogey on the 1st hole and Mast made bogies on 2 and 3. Johnson was unable to get things going after the bad start, but Mast turned it on from there. He made long birdie putts on 5, 7, 8, and 9 to take over the lead through nine holes. It was a two-man race from there between Mast and Abbott. However, Abbott was not able to keep up with the hot putter of Mast. “I felt the momentum, you know it’s a funny thing [momentum], you feel it and I felt it,” said Mast. He kept the momentum going with three more birdies on the back nine and got to the eighteenth tee with a six-shot lead. The 71-year-old struggled down 18, making a triple bogey but was still able to become the oldest MAPGA Section Champion by three shots.
A total of 13 MAPGA Professionals qualified for the 2023 PGA Professional Championship that will be held April 30 – May 3 of next year. It will be played at Twin Warriors Golf Club and Santa Ana Golf Club in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico. Nine of the thirteen qualified from their finish in the MAPGA Section Championship: Chris Abbott, Kyle Fuller, Jay Newcomb (The Suburban Club), Geoff Montross (Farmington CC), Josh Speight (The Club at Viniterra), John O’Leary (Trump National GC – DC), Rick Schuller, Billy Hoffman, and Ryan Fellows (The Club at Creighton Farms). Four qualified from other events: Ian McConnell (top-20 in 2021 PNC), David Hutsell (past champion – 2011), Ashley Grier (PGA Cup), and Larkin Gross (PGA Cup).
Thank you to our sponsors Cadillac, Club Car, Rolex, Titleist, TaylorMade, and Callaway and The Club at Creighton Farms for hosting!