Mason, Starkjohann share Sr. PNC lead
SEASIDE, Calif. -- James Mason of Dillard, Georgia, whose round was jumpstarted by an eagle, joined Chris Starkjohann of Oceanside, California, who had a second straight rollercoaster tour of Bayonet Black Horse, in sharing the lead Friday in the 27th Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA.
Mason, a 64-year-old PGA Life Member and last year’s runner-up, holed out from 60 yards for eagle on the 500-yard, par-5 12th hole at Black Horse. That boosted him to close at 3-under-par 69 and 7-under-par 36-hole total of 137, matching Starkjohann, whose 70 on Black Horse came after a rare second straight eight-birdie performance that was checkered with a double bogey and four bogeys.
SENIOR PGA PNC: Second-round scores | Friday's photos
Rick Morton of Jacksonville, North Carolina, who closed with a 70, was a stroke back in the $285,000 Championship that reached the midway point with 73 players making the cut of 1-over-par 145. The final two rounds, Saturday and Sunday, will be contested on Bayonet.
Former Champion Gene Fieger of Naples, Florida, and Rick Shuller, of Chester, Virginia, who had the day’s low round of 67, led a six-player group at 139.
Mason, a four-time Georgia PGA Section Champion and an inductee year into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, bogeyed his first hole before settling down. “Today was a bit more windy and I got off to a semi-shaky start,” said Mason. “I got turned around on the 12th hole by holing out for eagle. That turned me all around. I played well, hit the ball well, and the key to this golf course is hitting it in the fairway. You have to drive it well and get the ball on the right quadrant on the greens.”
Starkjohann, a 59-year-old PGA Life Member who has had wobbly starts the past two days, once again rallies late. Playing the back nine first, he overcame a double bogey on his fifth hole and three three-putt greens with birdies on five of his final six holes.
“The greens were hard to get the speed,” said Starkjohann. “I am a grinder. I don’t give up. It was all in God’s hands today. My emotions were so up and down, because I was frustrated I was three-putting. I had a hard time with the consistency of the greens today.
“My first year in this Championship was 2006, and I shot 17-under and lost on the second playoff hole. Ove the last couple of years I’ve lost some focus, had some personal issues provide a bit of a distraction. But this year has been different and I have a totally different focus.”
The low 35 scorers following Sunday’s round earn a berth in the 77th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, May 26-29, 2016, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Michigan.