Mast Leads Senior PGA Club Pro; Podas Is T48, Jones T70
October 15, 2020
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Dick Mast needed a 69 to shoot his age at the PGA Golf Club's Ryder Course on Thursday in the opening round of the 2020 Senior PGA National Professional (Club Pro) Championship. As it turned out, he beat his age by four with a 6-under-par 65, and he leads the field by one.
A former PGA Tour regular, Mast birdied all four of the par-5's and two of the par-3's. He had seven birdies in all, and one bogey.
Three players -- Bob Sowards, Chad Sorensen and Jeffrey Schmid -- are tied for second at 5 under. Sowards shot 66 at Ryder (par 71). Sorensen and Schmid both posted 67's at the other course being used for this tournament, Wanamaker (par 72).
Sowards (52), is one of only three players to have won the regular PGA National Club Pro Championship (2004) and the Senior Club Pro (2018). Also on that short list is defending champion Scott Hebert. He won the regular Club Pro title in 2008 and claimed the crown in the tournament for pros who are 50 and over by four strokes last year, in his first year of eligibility. Hebert put together a 68 at Ryder on Thursday and is tied for eighth.
Schmid, a 52-year-old teaching pro at Brown Deer Golf Club in Iowa City, Iowa, was even par through 12 holes. But he went 5 under in the next four holes at Wanamaker, beginning with a birdie at the par-5 13th. At the par-4 14th, he hit his drive into the rough, and his second shot was blocked by trees. From 161 yards, he sliced his approach roughly 30 yards and bounced it twice in front of the green. He couldn't see the ball after that, and thought it might have gone over the green. Instead, it went into the cup for an eagle 2. Schmid made another eagle two holes later at the par-5 16th, where the former University of Iowa star (he later served as an assistant coach for the Hawkeyes, from 2016 to 2018) hit a 4-iron second shot and made a 10-foot putt for his 3.
Mast spent the better part of a decade playing on the PGA Tour (1986-89 and '91-94). His best finish was a second at the Greater Milwaukee Open in 1992. He also played on the Hogan Tour in its first year of existance (1990), won three times and was the third-leading money winner that year. Nine years later, he was back, but the the Hogan had become the Nike Tour by then (it is now called the Korn Ferry), and Mast won another title.
When he turned 50 in 2001, he joined the Champions Tour and played there full-time out there for seven years. Among his best finishes were two ties for third at the British Senior Open.
A PGA Life Member, Mast in 2019 was named an assistant at Poplar Grove GC in Amherst, Va., where his son Jacob is the head professional.
The player with Minnesota connections who is highest in the standings after one round is Dave Podas, the former head pro at Minneapolis Golf Club who is now the head pro at the ritzy Bel-Air CC in Los Angeles. He bogeyed the eighth and ninth holes to finish the front nine at Ryder in 1-over 37, then birdied three of the first four holes on the inward nine, but slipped back with bogeys at the par-4 15th and par-5 17th holes. The result was a 71, even par.
Podas is tied for 48th place.
The field will be cut to the top 90 and ties after Friday's second round. Mendakota head pro Dale Jones is inside the number, tied for 70th, after shooting a 1-over 73 at Wanamaker on Thursday, and Ty Armstrong, a former PGA Tour regular, isn't far behind. Armstrong, a teaching pro at GolfTEC in Eden Prairie (and also the boys golf coach at Eden Prairie High School), shot 74 at Wanamaker and is tied for 104th.
There will be a second cut after the third round, and only the top 70 and ties will play the final round on Sunday.
2020 Senior PGA Professional Championship
At PGA Golf Club
Ryder Course (par 71) & Wanamaker Course (par 72)
Port St. Lucie, Fla.
First-round results (the field will be cut to the top 90 & ties after the second round and to the top 70 & ties after the third round)
1. Dick Mast, Lifetime Member -6 65 (R)
T2. Bob Sowards, Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club, Ohio -5 66 (R)
T2. Jeffrey Schmid, Brown Deer GC, Iowa -5 67 (W)
T2. Chad Sorensen, Buena Vista GC, Calif. -5 67 (W)
T5. Paul Stankowski, Life Member -4 67 (R)
T5. Kenneth Pridgen, Concordia GC, N.J. -4 68 (W)
T5. Alan Morin, Falls Club of the Palm Beaches, Fla. -4 68 (W)
T48. Dave Podas, Bel-Air CC, Calif. E 71 (R)
T70. Dale Jones, Mendakota +1 73 (W)
T104. Ty Armstrong, GolfTEC-Eden Prairie +2 74 (W)
T155. Larry Norland, Greenhaven GC +4 75 (R)
T176. Don Berry, Edinburgh USA +5 77 (W)
T213. Dan Callahan, Island View GC +7 79 (W)
T250. Steve Fessler, Albion Ridges GC +10 81 (R)