In the ultimate display of desire, the 53-year-old Mast took an overnight flight from Honolulu and arrived at El Camino Country Club about 20 minutes before his tee time. Then he shot 65 -- with a bogey on the final hole'and earned one of two spots to play in the Buick Invitational.
Just last week, Mast flew from Florida to Hawaii to try to earn one of four spots in the Monday qualifier for the Sony Open. He shot 64 at Pearl Country Club, then made the cut and tied for 47th for his first PGA check since 2001.
As long as I have the energy, and I hit it long enough, theres no reason I cant get hot and do something, Mast said Tuesday while playing a practice round at Torrey Pines.
Mast played 328 tour events without winning from 1974 to 2001, then became eligible for the 50-and-older Champions Tour. He isnt even fully exempt to play with the seniors, finishing 12th at Q-school last year to earn conditional status.
But he still thinks he can win'even against players half his age.
I do or I wouldnt try, Mast said.
Everything had to fall into place for him to qualify for the Buick Invitational.
Mast shot a 64 at the Sony Open on Friday and was only five shots out of the lead going into the final round. He closed with a 74 and tied for 47th, but he played so late on Sunday that his only option was the redeye at 10 p.m., connecting through Los Angeles and jumping on a commuter flight.
His tee time for the qualifier at El Camino was 8:41 a.m. Monday.
I shut my eyes on the plane, put a blanket over my head and pretended to sleep, Mast said. The lady said, Welcome to San Diego. The tires touched down at 7:10, and we came into the commuter airport, so luggage and everything goes quick. The Lord was good. I had strength.
He also has game'enough to qualify for back-to-back PGA Tour events as a 53-year-old with not much sleep.
Sometimes, you have to dig deep, Mast said.
He hopes to play in as many as 15 events on the Champions Tour and will continue to try PGA Tour events. Mast won four times on the Nationwide Tour, but never on the PGA or Champions circuits.
Ill take either, he said, walking up the fourth fairway on the South Course with Ernie Els on the adjacent fairway to the right and the Pacific Ocean below him on the left. But this would be the ultimate.
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