YORKTOWN — With lightning flashing in the distance and rain battering the roof overhead, Mt. Vernon’s Oliver Mast sat in silence under a shelter near the clubhouse. His body language defined the exertion of the day.
After nine hours and 20 holes played at The Players Club in Yorktown, the sophomore left nothing to chance or in the tank.
Shooting a 1-over-par 73 at the Muncie Regional to tie for second overall, Mast achieved what he set out to do.
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Next week, he’s going to Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
“It’s been a goal all year to make it to state,” Mast said after sharing congratulatory handshakes and hugs with friends and family. “I’ve been planning on it, focusing on it and visualizing on it. Coming out here, down the last few holes, I knew had to play under par, play my best game.”
His best locked him a four-way tied for medalist honors with Hamilton Southeastern’s Nick Kuster, Bishop Chatard’s Nick Williams and Muncie Central’s Keegan Bronnenberg.
The foursome played in a sudden-death playoff as another storm system threatened the tournament for a third time. Play was halted twice due to lightning and heavy rain during regulation, and once again surfaced in the evening.
The medalists stayed ahead of the black clouds at first, getting through the course’s first hole, still deadlocked as each carded a par 4. On the 18th hole, all four golfers finished before the course was cleared just as the rain recommenced.
Mast and Williams both bogeyed the final playoff hole while Kuster and Bronnenberg scored another par. When the weather stopped the playoff round, the players decided they had enough and collectively decided to share medalist and second-place honors.
Kuster and Bronnenberg were named co-medalist with all four advancing to state along with New Castle’s Blake Wheeler (74) and Ben Tinkle (75) of Hagerstown.
Kuster automatically moved on with his team as the HSE Royals claimed the team title with a 308. Noblesville was runner-up at 310 and Oak Hill took third with a 314.
Mast turned in an 80 as a freshman at regional a year ago, and he shot a 74 last week to finish runner-up at sectional following a playoff for medalist honors.
His one-stroke improvement wasn’t a surprise, but as Mast noted afterward, it wasn’t his best.
“I didn’t necessarily play all that well. I didn’t make any putts, or it seemed like, so to get a 73 was pretty satisfying,” Mast said. “To come in and find I was tied for medalist was nice.
“But I left four or five eight-foot birdie putts out there,” Mast continued. “Some others lipped out. I was hitting the greens, hitting the drives really well today, but nothing for falling for me. You have days like that. It’s golf.”
His best playoff day in his short career occurred last year at sectional with a 71 to win medalist honors. This time, though, it came against a field where nothing more than 3-over-par was good enough.
“He put together a great round of golf, and that’s evident from the fact that the tied for the top score with three other golfers,” Mt. Vernon head coach Zelencik said. “He’s a special talent. He’s a special kid.”
The Marauders toppled their previous team total with ease despite the weather delaying play nearly five hours in and once again with two groups still on the course later in the day.
Mt. Vernon scored a 325, which was 14 stokes better than their prior regional performance. In 2013, the team finished with a 351.
Jacob Ault was closest to Mast with an 81 followed by Jacob Yurack with an 83. Will Dant had an 88 and Jack Harker scored a 99.
Mast’s 73 was a result of 15 pars, a birdie on the sixth hole and two bogeys on 16 and 18.
He nearly birdied the first playoff hole to win medalist honors, but his ball narrowly missed the cup.
“It just skimmed the edge. I had a put similar to that in regulation play,” Mast said. “In regulation play, I missed it left, and (in the playoff) I missed it right.”
His bogey on the final playoff hole came off a difficult putt.
“It was long. It was 50 feet, left to right, and if I hit it short there was a chance of it funneling all the way down,” Mast said. “It was just one of those putts where you hit it hard and take your medicine or do what I did.”
“He overdrew the second shot to the left side of the green, and that’s just a killer green. It has that big dimple right there in the middle,” Zelencik added. “He had to putt around that and didn’t want to catch that. It bent right on him and the speed got him.”
In the end, all that mattered was travel arrangements for next week.
“He set his mind that he wanted to get to state. As a sophomore to do that and play the way he did and go through what he’s gone through this season is really special,” Zelencik said. “I believe he is the first Mt. Vernon state qualifier for boys golf. That’s a special achievement.”
Dragon misses cut
New Palestine’s Brady Elliott, who was making his third regional appearance, nearly advanced to state with a 76. Tying with four other golfer, Elliott almost faced a playoff, but Bronnenberg’s 73 ended his day.
“It’s rough, but I played a good round,” Elliott said. “I’m happy with the round still. I had no control over it.”
Greenfield-Central’s Clayton Long finished with a 96 in his second regional appearance as a junior. His first trip came in his freshman season.
Muncie Central Boys Golf Regional
(*top three advancing to state finals)
*Hamilton Southeastern 308
*Oak Hill 314
Mt. Vernon 325
Bishop Chatard 329
New Castle 332
Muncie Central 334
Franklin County 345
Lawrence Central 388
(*top five without a team advance to state finals)
73 – Nick Kuster, Hamilton Southeastern (medalist)
73 – *Keegan Bronnenberg, Muncie Central (medalist)
73 – *Oliver Mast, Mt. Vernon (tied for second)
73 – *Nick Williams, Bishop Chatard (tied for second)
74 – *Blake Wheeler, New Castle
75 – *Ben Tinkle, Hagerstown
Hancock County regional qualifiers
76 – Brady Elliott, New Palestine (5-way tie for sixth)
92 – Clayton Long, Greenfield-Central