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Vet makes field, mark

Former Lakewood, SPJC player Dick Mast sets record and gets into Classic.

By RODNEY PAGE

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 17, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- When Dick Mast left the practice range Monday morning for his Tampa Bay Classic qualifying round at Fox Hollow Golf Course, he still was tinkering. He stopped by his motor home on the way to the first tee to check his swing one last time in the rearview mirror.

And he never looked back.

Mast, who played at Lakewood High and St. Petersburg Junior College, shot a course-record 7-under 64 to earn one of four spots in this week's Tampa Bay Classic, which begins Thursday at Innisbrook. Sean Pacetti of St. Augustine (67), Kari Zoller of Tequesta (67) and Garrett Morrison of Jacksonville (68) also qualified. Christopher Colli of Valrico (69) was fifth and is the first alternate.

Zoller was the only one with an afternoon tee time to qualify. PGA Tour player Jim McGovern, who shot 70, was the only other afternoon player to break par.

Mast, 49, is a PGA Tour veteran who has played in 15 tour events this season. He failed to make the cut in his last three. He was not exempt for the Tampa Bay Classic, which meant he had to pay a $200 entrance fee as did the other 131 participants.

"I've been making a lot mistakes lately," said Mast, who lives in Winter Garden. "I was pretty frustrated with my swing. I was even getting some help with my swing on the range. When it came time to play I just had to go with what I got."

Mast didn't miss a green in regulation until the 17th hole. He was 9-under after 16 holes but bogied 17 and 18 on Fox Hollow's 7,138-yard, par-71 layout.

His score broke the record of Senior Tour member Jim Holtgrieve, who shot 65 in 1999.

Mast, who plans to play tournaments on the Buy.Com Tour, the PGA Tour and the Senior Tour next season, said he didn't let the pressure of a Monday qualifier get to him.

"I look at it as a one-day tournament and you have to finish in the top five," Mast said. "You either do or you don't. I don't try to put too much pressure on myself. My main objective was to qualify."

Mast wasn't the only PGA Tour pro to play. Brian Claar, Brian Tenyson, Brian Kamm, Brett Quigley and McGovern have PGA experience. Andy Bean and Mark Carnevale, both tour players, withdrew Sunday.

Claar, who went to the University of Tampa, shot 74 He said he hoped to get a sponsors exemption and was frustrated when he didn't.

"No excuses, but once I found out I wasn't in the tournament I didn't practice all week," Claar said. "I was kind of bummed that I didn't get to play here. It showed today. I don't have anyone to blame but myself."

And after a bad start, Claar treated the day like a round with his buddies.

"I knew that when I got to 2-over-par after five or six that it was pretty much over," he said. "When you've got (131) guys, there's going to be four that have things going their way. I just decided to have fun."

That was also the philosophy of former Florida State and Buccaneers quarterback Casey Weldon, a 3-handicap who shot 78.

"This was kind of like a preseason game," Weldon said. "The pressure wasn't that bad. I just didn't want to embarrass myself. I've played in some of the Celebrity Golf Tournaments this summer, although I'm pushing the celebrity part."

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