PHILADELPHIA l The 108th Philadelphia Open at Pine Valley is now in the record books and Andrew Mason managed to pull off a most impressive repeat victory.
Mason, 23, from Huntingdon Valley CC, GAP’s reigning Player of the Year, fashioned rounds of 70-74 for a 4-over-par total, giving him a two-shot advantage on Travis Deibert, a club pro from Commonwealth National GC.
Mason became the first player to repeat in the Open since Frank Dobbs, of Spring-Ford CC, in 1990-91 and the first amateur to successfully defend since Jay Sigel of Aronimink GC in 1986-87.
With success like that, surely Mason must be at least mulling turning pro and chasing the dream, correct?
“I want to remain an amateur,” Mason said Friday when reached on his cellphone, as he prepared to tee it up in another tournament. “I have never really wanted to turn pro.”
Mason, who graduated from Temple in May and is working for a financial planning start-up, enjoys the life of the amateur and has no illusions, or delusions, about making the leap to Tour pro.
“Maybe if I was the second-ranked amateur in the country it would be different, but I am not,” he said.
After winning the Philadelphia Open and the Pennsylvania Amateur last year, Mason spent the first half of this summer competing in national amateur events, taking the measure of his game. Competing against entire fields of guys who’ve won everything back home, he has finished mostly middle of the pack.
It has been an eye-opener, if not a wake-up call.
“Those guys are just so good out there,” said Mason.
Fact is, said Mason, neither the Tour pro life nor the club pro life ever have held much appeal to him.
“I enjoy going out on the weekends and playing golf with my buddies; I don’t want to lose that aspect of golf,” he said. “If everything is about trying to make an extra $50 on the golf course every day, it strains everything.”
Frankly, Mason thinks plenty of other hot young amateurs could use a good dose of golfing reality.
“Some of these kids have no business turning pro, but no one wants to tell them that,” he said. “Everyone wants to be supportive, but sometimes, what’s best for people is a little bit of honesty.”
None of this means Mason doesn’t want to chase his golfing dream up to a point. He does. But he just wants to do it as a career amateur, continuing to improve to the point that he can compete in national events, perhaps even make the Walker Cup one day.
Can he point to any role models?
“Nathan Smith,” said Mason, referring to the Western Pennsylvanian who won back-to-back U.S. Mid-Am titles in 2009-10 and was part of the winning U.S. Walker Cup team at Merion GC in 2009. He also mentioned Mike McCoy, from Iowa, a four-time winner of the Crump Cup.
One final question. As an amateur, was it hard to pass up the $10,000 winner’s check for the Open? It went to Deibert, the second-place finisher.
“No,” said Mason, without hesitation.
Then he laughed.
“It was a lot of money.”