By J.R. De GROOTE
Stephens Media Hawaii
Nick Mason sank a 25-foot birdie putt on a third playoff hole at Mauna Lani resort’s prestigious North Course to edge defending champion Dean Wilson and take home the 2013 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 the day and shot a 4-under 68 on the final day, just enough to keep pace with Wilson’s blazing 5-under 67 and force the playoff. However, if not for a fortunate roll on Mason’s final putt of regulation, the playoff would have never been.
“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 had not got close to winning the event since, but the University of Hawaii at Hilo graduate wouldn’t have scripted Sunday’s win any other way.
“You want to win with a birdie,” Mason said. “Dean and I both said let’s win with a birdie not a par, and it ended up like that.”
Second-round leader Jake Grodzinsky was visibly upset after a final round 73 and amateur David Fink posted a 3-under 69, to finish one stroke out of the playoff. Fink finished first among amateurs by a six-stroke margin.
In the Senior Professional Division, Jeff Coston finished off his weekend of consistency with an even par 72 to finish at 8-under par, 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 run an academy out of Semiahmoo Resort in Washington, recalled some sage advice he received early on in his PGA Tour career after the win.
“When I first turned pro my rookie year on the tour Gil Morgan was a big deal on the tour. 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.”
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 to 14 at Mauna Lani Resort.