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Saturday showdown: Mason, Sloan battle for Pro-Am title

Published 8/11/2012 in Pro-Am

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Roger Sloan has played in one Adams Golf Pro Tour Series tournament in 2012, and he came away with a first-place check of $12,000 in late May at the Bay Oaks Open in Houston.

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Becky Malewitz/Telegram Southwest Kansas Pro-Am leader Nick Mason, hits the ball Friday on the first fairway at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

Becky Malewitz/Telegram Southwest Kansas Pro-Am leader Nick Mason, hits the ball Friday on the first fairway at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course.

Nick Mason has been a veteran Southwest Kansas Pro-Am contestant over the past six years and has been in contention on several occasions, but has not managed to bring home a tourney title.

It will be Mason holding a slender one-shot lead over Sloan as the 33rd annual Pro-Am concludes today with the leaders playing the final round at The Golf Club at Southwind. The leaders will tee off early in the afternoon with each of their respective amateur teams — Sloan tees off at 1:06 p.m., With Mason following at 1:17 p.m..

Mason's 3-under-par 69 on Friday at Buffalo Dunes left him at 14-under-par 202, while Sloan's sizzling 6-under-par 66, the lowest round of the day, moved him back into contention for the title at 13-under 203.

While it won't quite be like match play in today's final round, it comes close as it is another four shots back at 8-under-par 207, where you'll find Kansan Chris Thompson (68), 2011 U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft (67), Ireland's Fergal Rafferty (70) and Will Osborne of Wichita Falls, Texas (72).

For Mason, a Denver, Colo. resident, winning the Pro-Am would be a feather in his cap for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the $12,000 winner's check.

"The money's certainly there, but it always is," Mason said after Saturday's round. "For me, though, I've gotten to know so many people here that it just feels like family when I'm here for the Pro-Am. I'd like to win it for all of the people who have taken good care of me through the years. Of all the events I play in, winning this, would be, well, let's just say I want to win this one more than most of the others."

Mason registered four birdies and just one bogey in his 3-under round. The birdies came at the par-5 fifth, par-4 11th and 14th and the par-3 17th where he stuck his iron shot to within eight feet under the hole and calmly knocked it in. His lone bogey on the card came at the par-4 sixth.

"I've been driving the ball really, really well and my irons have been solid," Mason said of his play this week. "The putting has been above average, but for me it's as close to play as good as I feel I can. Have I had it all together in any one round? Probably not, but I'm not far off."

For Sloan, a Canadian from Merritt, British Columbia, the 66 Friday more than made up for his disappointing bogey-double bogey finish on the same Dunes course during Thursday's second round.

"Thursday was a bittersweet finish because I actually played well the entire round up the last two holes," Sloan said. "I played about the same today, so it was good to see today's score as a result of how well I played."

Sloan's nearly-perfect round saw him hit 17-of-18 greens in regulation and finish with just 29 putts. He had six birdies and no bogeys on his scorecard.

The birdies came at the par-5 fifth, where he was green high in two, chipped to four feet and made the putt. At the par-3 eighth, a 7-iron from 189 yards was lasered in to within two feet. Then the barrage of four birdies came at the par-4 10th (an 8-footer); the short par-5 13th (one foot); a pitching wedge to 15-feet on the par-4 14th and then capped off with a wedge to two feet on the par-5 16th.

"The wedge on 16 was probably the best shot I hit all day, because the ball was sitting down in a divot," Sloan said. "It's good to be back in the thick of things. Everything seems to be working well, I'm thinking well out there and my preparation has been good."

Sloan said the key to success at the two courses is to keep the ball in the fairway off the tee.

"These aren't long golf courses, so if you've got the ball in the fairway, you're approach shots are not all that long," he said. "There's just a premium on hitting the fairways. I have just been plodding along, being patient and taking what the course gives me."

The Pro-Am benefits the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at St. Catherine Hospital and proceeds from each year's tournament is directed to the purchase of new equipment for the unit as well as for educational training of the unit's nursing staff. Through the years, more than $800,000 has been donated.

Defending champion Chris Ward had a 5-under-par 66 at Southwind for the low round there, but is well back at 5-under-par 211.

See results in Scoreboard, Page D2.

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