Holy Family junior Jess Mason wasted little time in adding to her trophy collection this summer. The runaway winner of the Class 4A state title almost two weeks ago followed it up with a victory at the 47th Colorado Junior PGA Championship eight days later.
“It’s been a really busy month,” Mason cracked.
And a successful one at every break.
The 17-year-old won her regional earlier in June. Exceeded that by walloping the state field by 10 strokes over two days at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora to clinch her first state title. Then over the final days of the month, Mason added more hardware as she made her way through a much-tighter, three-day run at the Junior PGA finale.
Holding off Jefferson Academy’s Aubri Braecklein and Mullen’s Sofia Choi at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs, she sank a five-foot par putt on No. 18 to seal the one-stroke victory.
“That par putt was big,” she told the Colorado Golf Association site afterward. “It was a tester putt and I was nervous. But I made it.”
The win qualified her for the Girls Junior PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky, which is set for July 27-30. Braecklein, who won the 3A state title, nabbed the other qualifying spot after beating Choi in a playoff.
“My game has gotten a lot better and I’m kind of figuring things out,” Mason said. “I can keep getting better, but I’m breaking through a little bit.”
The leaps in her game have certainly been giant. And maybe they appear even more so since it’d been two years since the state was able to crown its last champion in girls golf prior to Mason’s landslide win.
Before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season, Mason donned the Holy Family purple polo as a freshman with a bright future. Then a brimming and formidable No. 2 to the program’s former ace Hailey Schalk, the now-CU golfer won a third straight championship at a snowy, one-day state tournament in 2019. Schalk’s chance to become Colorado’s first four-time winner in girls golf, however, was axed the following year.
For her part, Mason continued the streak in the spring. Her efforts netted her the BoCoPreps.com player of the year honor.
“It means a lot to keep the win streak going for Holy Family,” Mason said moments after her state win. “I want to keep it going next year, too. Follow Hailey and keep the championship in the school.”
Against an impressive state field that included Mead standout Timbre Shehee and Choi, the Tigers junior finished the first day up by eight strokes. She eagled a hole on Day 1, nearly had an albatross Day 2 before settling for another eagle, and had two of the three under-par rounds in the entire tournament.
Her eventual 10-stroke victory was greater than the total win margin amongst the last four winners in 4A, which combined to be nine strokes better than the field.
“Jessica has really evolved and she’s followed a great program, and has worked hard to get better is the main thing,” Holy Family coach Matt Schalk said. “She’s become a smart player out on the course. She really understands course management and knows how to attack these courses.”
Added Shehee: “I love the way she plays. I love her attitude. She’s super deserving of the win.”