MANCHESTER — Andrew Mason waited nearly as long as anyone to tee off at Charlie’s Maine Open but the former Temple University standout certainly made the best of his opportunity once he got it.
Mason birdied two of the final three holes at Augusta Country Club to take home the championship with an 8-under-par 62 on Tuesday.
“I thought I was going to play yesterday, didn’t, so I’m happy to have played out here today,” Mason said. “I played really well,”
This year’s Maine Open proved to be anything but conventional for Mason — and for most of the golfers in the field for that matter.
Nearly half of the field at least teed off on Monday on the first day of what was supposed to be a 36-hole tournament, but torrential rain ultimately put a damper on that — wiping out any results from the first day entirely. The Maine Open was then reduced to an 18-hole event and once Mason teed off at 2:20 p.m. on Tuesday, he wasted little time in getting on the board.
He birdied the opening hole, and added two more on the fifth and sixth holes, respectively, to go quickly move to 3-under. Once making the turn Mason made yet another push and carded three straight birdies to take the lead at 6-under-par.
“I kind of had an idea I was in the lead,” Mason said, “but not by a great amount.”
Mason added another birdie on the 16th to go up two strokes on the leaders in the clubhouse, but on the 18th fairway he found out he still had some work left to do. While the Huntingdon Valley, Pa. native was preparing to finish his round, Mark Purrington, of Dartmouth, Mass., was just a shot back at 6-under-par with two holes remaining on the front nine.
“I thought I was two clear,” Mason said. “Then I heard on the middle of the 18th fairway I heard (Purrington) has two holes to play,”
Mason made sure to shut the door on the 540-yard, par-5 18th though, sticking his approach shot with a 4-iron from 225 yards out to within 10 feet to set up an eagle opportunity. From there Mason two-putted for birdie to move to 8-under-par and Purrington only got one real good look at birdie in the final two holes.
Purrington got into the hunt with in the first place with a strong push at the back end of his first nine holes to shoot 4-under, but after the turn left a few opportunities on the putting surface and was forced to scramble at times to save par.
“I’m happy with it,” Purrington said. “It would have been nice to get a win but it was good.
“The first holes I just kind of parred, playing steady golf and then I had an eagle on 13. The short par 4 I hit a nice drive and then I hit a wedge that hit by the pin, went up the hill, came back and then went in. I just played pretty steady.”
While the Maine Open ultimately boiled down to a two-man race at the of the day, most spent their time staring at the number 65.
Joe Toland and Eric Egloff held the lead through the morning session by shooting 5-und par, while Jeb Buchanan and Bryan Bingle added their names to the list a few hours later by matching them atop the leader board.
Toland teed off at 9:30 a.m. and started the front nine on a torrid pace.
“I got it going early,” he said. “Made one (birdie) at the first and again at the third.”
Toland dropped a shot with a bogey on the par-4 fourth but responded with three straight birdies — including a chip in from just off the green on the par-3, 190-yard seventh.
On the back nine, the Lebanon, N.H. native “leveled off” with six pars, one birdie and one bogey heading into the 18th, but managed to make up and down for birdie from the fringe on the final hole.
Egloff, meanwhile, was almost in the clubhouse by the time Toland made the turn as he was in one of the first groups of the day at 7:40 a.m.
“I hit it pretty good. I just tried to keep it around the hole and keep it close,” Egloff said. “My goal was just to not make any big mistakes. I’ve made one bogey in two days. I shot 3-under yesterday — which didn’t count — so I was basically 8-under for two days.”
The resident of Sandy Spring, Md. began his day on the 10th hole and made the turn at 3-under after carding birdies on Nos. 12, 14 and 15. Egloff picked up a birdie on hole No. 1 and grabbed another on the par-4 fourth after sticking his second shot within 10 feet of the pin.
On the par-5 fifth Egloff had another opportunity to get further into the red but this time his birdie attempt from inside of 10 feet just burned the edge.
Egloff parred No. 6 but then dropped a stroke after leaving his tee shot on the par-3 seventh short of the green. After chipping on, he missed his seven-foot par attempt and settled for a bogey.
The putter would come back for him on the ninth though, as he dropped in a 20-footer down the two-tiered green for a birdie to close the round with a 65.
As for the two former co-leaders with later tee times, Buchanan and Bingle both did their damage on the back nine of the course — just at different times.
“I had a lot of opportunities for birdies on the back nine,” Buchanan said. “Nothing really fell for me on the front, I shot 1-under and then had a lot of opportunities. Made some putts on the back nine, had a couple looks that could have dropped but didn’t.”
Buchanan carded birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 18 to charge up the leader board with a 4-under-par performance on the back.
Bingle, meanwhile, opened his day by carding birdies on Nos. 12, 14, 16 and 18 before holding on while playing the front nine. He had pars on every hole with the exception of the par-3 seventh, where he stuck his tee shot within six feet of the pin and sank the putt for birdie.
“I had missed a few six- to eight-footers throughout the day but I knew the lead was at 65 so I knew I had to get at least one or two (birdies) coming in,” Bingle said. “It would have been nice to hit it closer on nine. It was the perfect yardage but the wind kind of laid down and it ended up back of the green.”
Bingle finished with two straight pars to finish at 5-under.
Other notables included Vermont Open champ Richy Werenski, Augusta’s Jason Gall, former Maine Open champ Mike San Filippo, Jason Rossetti, Matthew Campbell, Chad Bouchard and Michael Davan. Each shot 4-under 66s to finish four stroke off the pace.
Evan Crawley — 621-5640