Jessica Mason isn’t long past the end of her high school golfing career, where she won a state title with Holy Family. And she’s not yet arrived for her next golf stop at Pomona College in California.
It’s limbo between past success and future promise and 18-year-old Mason is filling it up with more accolades on the links.
Last month, the 2021 winner of the Class 4A state tournament and Colorado Junior PGA Championship waived an opportunity to defend her state title to play at the Colorado Women’s Open. Weeks later, she rolled that into play at the Women’s Western Junior Championship in Frankfort, Ill., becoming the 95th winner of the prestigious tournament.
The winning touch was a 30-some-foot birdie putt on a 19th-hole playoff. She’d rallied to beat Naperville, Ill., resident Lisa Copeland in the final round.
“I had a caddie from the country club and he knew the greens really well,” Mason recalled with a grin. “He said, ‘Do you see that dark spot in the green?’ And I was like ‘yes’. And I hit it exactly where he told me to and it went in the middle of the hole. I was like, well, he’s pretty good I guess.”
Mason’s victorious hit was reminiscent of her clinching putt on No. 18 at the Country Club of Colorado to win the Colorado Junior PGA Championship the year before (albeit the difficulty was much greater). Pumping her fists in victory miles away at Prestwick Country Club, her latest win came after two days of stroke play and four rounds of match play.
Past winners of the tournament included LPGA greats Nancy Lopez, Candie Kung, Grace Park and Christie Kerr. Mason said she was honored when she found out Lopez (one of the greats in the sport in the late 1970s and 80s) had won her first of three WJCs at the same site as her 50 years prior.
“So, that was kind of cool,” Mason beamed.
For now, Mason is getting her golf fix in front of her college days.
Thursday, she finished play in the CGA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Colorado National Golf Club, finishing tied for 10th.
CU golfer Kelsey Webster, formerly of Fairview, won the tournament with a three-round score of 4-under 212. She shot 1-under 71 on the final day to hold off 2021 champ Leigha Devine by a stroke. Mason’s former high school teammate, Hailey Schalk, tied for third, carding a 214. Aubri Braecklein, who went from Jefferson Academy to Georgia State, was 12th at 221.
The 75th running of the event came a month after Mason played on a sponsor exemption at the Colorado Women’s Open at Greenwood Valley Ranch. There, Mason, her own critic, said she didn’t play well. But she did what she could to absorb the opportunity of playing in a group with PGA player Brooke Matthews as well as former Broomfield and now-University of Wyoming golfer Meghan Vogt.
Mason will head to Pomona College in August to study Molecular Biology, hoping to one day get her doctorate. As for golf?
She said she’ll take it as it comes.
“I really like science, so I want to get a degree and a career and then I’ll see where golf takes me,” Mason said. “I’m open to it. It’s always something that is a possibility and if I have the chance (at going pro) I’d probably do it.”