U.S. Open local qualifier field is loaded

The road to the 121st U.S. Open begins Wednesday with 18-hole local qualifying at Hidden Glen in Cedarburg, and the field is a virtual who’s who of Wisconsin golf.

The marquee threesome, going off the first tee at 10 a.m., consists of Hunter Eichhorn, the two-time Big East player of the year from Marquette University; Jordan Niebrugge, the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion and low amateur at the 2015 British Open, and four-time Wisconsin State Open champion Dan Woltman.

Also in the field are Mick Smith, the 2020 Wisconsin PGA Professional champion who just missed qualifying for the 2021 PGA Championship; recent college stars-turned-pro Jordan Hahn of Wisconsin and George Kneiser of UW-Green Bay, and Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame member Ryan Helminen.

Five players from the field of 80 will advance to 36-hole sectional qualifying. The U.S. Open is scheduled for June 17-20 at Torrey Pines in San Diego.

The future is now for Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson has finished his collegiate career at UW, and the Badgers’ ex-No. 1 player is wasting no time getting ready for the next chapter.

UW Sam Anderson.jpg

Wisconsin’s Sam Anderson tracks his tee shot at the 2019 Badger Invitational.

Anderson told The Sweet Spot that he plans to move to Florida and will turn pro at the May 24 Monday qualifier for the Korn Ferry Tour’s Evans Scholars Invitational at The Glen Club in Glenview, Ill. After that, he hopes to play in all eight events on the Forme Tour, an abbreviated version of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada.

The Mackenzie Tour is on hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions in Canada. All events on the Forme Tour will be played in the U.S. As was the case on the Mackenzie Tour, the top five money winners on the Forme Tour this year will earn full status on the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour.

If Anderson’s schedule allows, he will enter the 2021 Wisconsin State Open, Aug. 16-18 at Blackwolf Run (Meadow Valleys) and Pine Hills Country Club. He finished fourth last year.

“Obviously, if I play extremely well this year and I get a few starts on the Korn Ferry Tour or PGA Tour, or if we overlap with the (Forme) Tour, I will not make it to the State Open,” he said. “As of right now I fully intend on coming back to Wisconsin and playing in the State Open.”

Recalling Casey Danielson’s Symetra Tour springboard

Tony Mancilla, general manager of the Island Resort & Casino in Harris, Mich., and tournament director of the Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship, June 11-13, invoked Casey Danielson’s name in a Zoom conference call with reporters last week.

2021 IOA Championship | Casey Danielson, Osceola

Casey Danielson of Osceola watches her shot at the 2021 IOA Championship on the Symetra Tour.

Mancilla was talking about qualities he looked for in a player when handing out sponsor exemptions. Danielson, of Osceola, was playing on the Ladies European Tour in 2018 when Mancilla gave the four-time WIAA state champion an exemption into the Island Resort Championship.

He called Danielson the “prototypical sponsor exemption.”

“She was on the European Tour and she was trying to get on the Symetra Tour,” he said. “She came over as an exemption. We were excited to have her. She finished fourth and almost won the tournament. She ended up playing the rest of the season (on the Symetra Tour) and the last two or three seasons, she’s been No. 12, No. 11, No. 15 (on the money list) every year.”

Danielson has entered the tournament next month. Four-time Wisconsin Women’s State Open champion Tess Hackworthy is on the reserve list for the 144-player field.

Digging deep for the MACC Fund

In addition to the money raised by high school golfers playing in the MACC Fund Invitational at Erin Hills on Saturday – a figure now approaching $80,000 – five-time PGA Tour winner Mark Wilson and Hartland Arrowhead coach Greg Budzien sponsored a game on the ninth hole.

For every player in the field of 144 who hit the green in regulation on the downhill, 140-yard hole, Wilson donated $25 and Budzien $10 to the MACC Fund.

Fifty-six players hit the green, which meant Wilson contributed $1,400 and Budzien added $560 for a total of $1,960. Wilson, a Menomonee Falls native, has supported the event since its inception in 2007.

Three qualify for NCAA Division 1 regionals

Vanderbilt senior Harrison Ott of Brookfield, Davidson College junior Clayton Tribus of Madison and Hunter Eichhorn, a native of Carney, Mich., and a redshirt junior at Marquette, will tee it up in NCAA Division 1 Regional competition, May 17-19.

Vanderbilt won the SEC Championship, with Ott contributing two match-play victories, and is the third-seeded team at The Golf Club of Tennessee. Eichhorn qualified as an individual and also will be in the field in Kingston Springs, Tenn.

Tribus finished T-9 at the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and helped Davidson to the team title. The Wildcats will compete at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.

Tap-ins, lip-outs and double-breakers

Cam Fuller, a Sturgeon Bay native and former member of the UW-Green Bay golf team, has been hired as athletic director at St. Norbert College. Fuller, 31, will succeed Tim Bald, who is retiring after 17 years as AD. Currently, Fuller is assistant commissioner for competition, branding and sponsorship for the Horizon League. … In addition to Eichhorn being named Big East player of the year last week, MU redshirt sophomore Nicolas Evangelio earned second-team recognition on the all-conference team. The native of Logrono, Spain, tied for 10th at the Big East Championship. He was a two-time NAIA All-American at Missouri Valley College. …Gastrau’s Golf Center in Oak Creek will host a Wilson Staff demo day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 15. Visit Gastrau’s website to sign up for a one-on-one fitting appointment.

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