Dick Mast has been a cult hero to many for a long time. The name is legendary of course, but his drive to continue competing at age 72 is unmatched. Today Dick Mast shot 66, six strokes better than his age, and then won a three-for-one playoff to earn a spot in this week's Champions Tour event.
Oh, and he did it with rental clubs. And the only reason he was there was because some friends lent him money to play the last five qualifiers.
When I talked with Mast this evening (I'm not often nervous with players, but this is an exception), he gave me the details. He recently was home and decided to pull out some old Titleist irons and was hitting them well, so he put them in the bag for this week's qualifier. On the way to the course this morning, he wondered if the grooves were conforming. He asked the Minnesota PGA Section if they had a groove tool to test them to ensure they were legal. The section and the course didn't have one, so Mast was out of luck.
He went into the clubhouse and found some Titleist irons that were conforming. The main problem was that Mast’s irons are an inch and a half above standard length and these clubs were standard length; a huge difference for a professional. He could keep his sand wedge and woods but with no other choice, he put the rental set in the bag for the qualifier.
Mast said he played much more aggressively because he wanted to avoid the rental set’s pitching wedge. Mast had no idea how far it would go.
Mast made the turn at just one-under but made four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back to finish with a five-under 66. That led to a three-for-one playoff with Mark Walker and former high school teacher, Jay Jurecic.
In the playoff, all three players made par on the first hole. On the second hole, Mast, putting last, drained a 30-foot birdie putt to punch his ticket into the Sanford Open. At age 72, Mast will play in his 191st Champions Tour event.
"I wouldn't be out here if I didn't think I could," Mast told me when I asked if he could still win on the Champions Tour. "My short game has always been good. If I get near the lead, I'm going to be like a dog on a raw meat bone."
Some of Mast’s friends back in Virginia had pooled together some money to help Mast get to the last five qualifiers of the season. Mast closed our conversation by saying he has four more events and is setting his sights high. “If I play well enough I can make the Charles Schwab Cup."
72 years old and still brimming with confidence. Dick Mast is a legend.