Among the leaders going into the final round of the WSGA Junior Boys Championship on Wednesday, Bennett Swavely, a rising junior at Hudson High School, probably was the least experienced in terms of performing in big moments.
He started the day at Edelweiss Chalet Country Club in New Glarus tied for the lead with Cameron Huss of Kenosha, a University of Wisconsin recruit. Drake Wilcox of Sheboygan, the reigning WIAA Division 3 champion, was two shots back and rounded out the final threesome. And Badgers recruit Jack Blair of Wauwatosa was lurking three shots back.
“I knew the guys in my group, Cameron and Drake, were both good players,” Swavely said. “I knew the group in front of me had good players, too, with Jack and (Danny) Sanicki (of Menomonee Falls). I knew any of those guys could make birdies down the stretch.”
Swavely, however, held off all of them, riding a steady 1-over 73 to an even-par 216 total and a three-shot victory in the 54-hole event. Huss shot a 76 and finished second at 219 and Blair (74), Sanicki (73) and Wilcox (75) tied for third at 220.
It was by far Swavely’s biggest victory to date, and he joins a list of champions that includes Steve Stricker, Mark Wilson, Thomas Longbella and Hunter Eichhorn in a tournament that began in 1924.
“I’ve won a few high school tournaments here and there and I won a few tournaments in the summer when I played in (junior events) in Minnesota,” Swavely said. “But nothing as big as this. It feels good to have my name on that trophy.”
Swavely parred the first eight holes and birdied No. 9, while Huss got off to a slow start with four bogeys in the first seven holes. By the time they made the turn, he was five shots back.
“It was a little disappointing because at the start of the day I was tied for the lead and then I was 4-over through seven,” Huss said. “I had a couple three-putts the first seven holes and I wasn’t in my groove. I played solid the first two days. Just didn’t have it today.”
Blair, who helped Milwaukee Marquette High School win back-to-back WIAA Division 1 state titles and set the tournament scoring record (594) this spring, also got off to a slow start with three bogeys in the first five holes. He did birdie Nos. 6, 8 and 15 but by then it was too little, too late.
“My game felt pretty mediocre the entire week but I just kept grinding,” Blair wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.golf. “I saw Bennett was 1-under on his front nine and at that point I knew it was over.
“I always tell myself that I have little control over my natural talent or even to an extent how I’m physically playing. All I can control is whether I can quit or keep going. I gave it my all, but got beat by somebody playing golf at a higher, more fine-tuned level.”
Sanicki made a big move with four birdies against a lone bogey on the front nine to pull to within a single stroke, but a triple-bogey on the par-4 10th effectively ended his chances.
Swavely, meanwhile, three-putted from 12 feet for a “bad bogey” on No. 11 and missed the green and failed to get up and down on the par-3 17th for another bogey, but otherwise was steady down the stretch.
“He didn’t make any big mistakes,” Huss said.
Swavely said he avoided looking at the standard bearers’ signs and didn’t know exactly where he stood until Huss told him on the 18th green that he had a three-shot lead.
“I felt like I handed it pretty well,” he said. “Obviously, I was a little nervous coming down the stretch. Like I said, I haven’t really won a big tournament before. This is a big confidence booster for me.”
Swavely plays out of Troy Burne Golf Club, where former University of Illinois All-American Charlie Danielson of Osceola often practices. Danielson ranks 14th on the PGA Tour’s non-member earnings list this year and recently tied for seventh in the Barracuda Championship.
“He doesn’t live too far from me,” Swavely said. “I’ve seen him at Troy Burne a couple times practicing with my coach, Brent Snyder. After I won today, Charlie DM’d me and said, ‘Good job.’ It was nice of him to do that.”
|1||-||Bennett Swavely Hudson, WI||E||F||+1||70||73||73||216|
|2||Cameron Huss Kenosha, WI||+3||F||+4||72||71||76||219|
|T3||Jack (John) Blair Wauwatosa, WI||+4||F||+2||76||70||74||220|
|T3||Danny Sanicki Menomonee Falls, WI||+4||F||+1||72||75||73||220|
|T3||-||Drake Wilcox Sheboygan, WI||+4||F||+3||68||77||75||220|
|T6||Blake Wisdom Lake Geneva, WI||+6||F||-1||73||78||71||222|
|T6||Kyle Bengtson Woodruff, WI||+6||F||+4||76||70||76||222|
|T8||Samuel Nielsen Fond Du Lac, WI||+7||F||-3||81||73||69||223|
|T8||Zak Kulka Beaver Dam, WI||+7||F||E||73||78||72||223|
|T8||-||Matthew Raab Hartland, WI||+7||F||+2||74||75||74||223|
|11||Piercen Hunt Hartland, WI||+8||F||+3||71||78||75||224|
|T12||James Gilmore Middleton, WI||+9||F||+4||73||76||76||225|
|T12||Jacob Beckman Middleton, WI||+9||F||+5||72||76||77||225|
|T14||Tyler Cleaves Kaukauna, WI||+10||F||+2||79||73||74||226|
|T14||Karl Gilmore Middleton, WI||+10||F||+4||73||77||76||226|
|16||Joe Forsting Edgerton, WI||+12||F||+7||76||73||79||228|
|17||Simon Cuskey Rice Lake, WI||+13||F||+4||73||80||76||229|
|T18||Lukas Heckmann Middleton, WI||+14||F||+4||74||80||76||230|
|T18||Hayden LeMonds Wauwatosa, WI||+14||F||+4||76||78||76||230|
|T18||Tommy Kriewaldt Madison, WI||+14||F *||E||78||80||72||230|
|T21||Austin Gray Janesville, WI||+15||F||+5||79||75||77||231|
|T21||Steven Sanicki Menomonee Falls, WI||+15||F||+5||77||77||77||231|
|T21||Austin Gaby Verona, WI||+15||F||+6||77||76||78||231|
|T24||Christian Staudt Mequon, WI||+16||F||+7||73||80||79||232|
|T24||Jack Lutze Brookfield, WI||+16||F||+9||79||72||81||232|
|26||Zachary Walsh Elm Grove, WI||+17||F||+7||76||78||79||233|
|T27||Vincent Omernik Custer, WI||+18||F *||+6||79||77||78||234|
|T27||Austin Thyes Sheboygan Falls, WI||+18||F *||+5||79||78||77||234|
|T27||Noah Kirsch Lancaster, WI||+18||F||+8||78||76||80||234|
|T27||Austin Erickson Sparta, WI||+18||F *||+5||79||78||77||234|
|T27||Sebastian Kasun Elm Grove, WI||+18||F||+12||78||72||84||234|
|T32||Thomas Winkler Mount Horeb, WI||+19||F||+7||78||78||79||235|
|T32||Jackson Cain Delafield, WI||+19||F||+7||80||76||79||235|
|T32||Adam Lazaroff Minocqua, WI||+19||F *||+6||78||79||78||235|
|T32||Ansen Nomm Minocqua, WI||+19||F *||+6||78||79||78||235|
|T32||Josh Teplin Mequon, WI||+19||F||+10||72||81||82||235|
|37||Ryan Batterman Cottage Grove, WI||+20||F||+10||79||75||82||236|
|38||-||Ben Peloquin Weston, WI||+21||F *||+8||78||79||80||237|
|T39||Ethan Wilkins Sussex, WI||+22||F||+12||78||76||84||238|
|T39||Kyle Wille Edgerton, WI||+22||F *||+6||81||79||78||238|
|T41||Nicholas Higley Strum, WI||+23||F *||+9||82||76||81||239|
|T41||Nicholas Amtmann Nashotah, WI||+23||F *||+7||81||79||79||239|
|T41||Ryan Darling Allouez, WI||+23||F *||+4||84||79||76||239|
|T44||Max Reis De Pere, WI||+24||F||+12||78||78||84||240|
|T44||Ty Kretz Marinette, WI||+24||F *||+11||80||77||83||240|
|T44||Sather Liam Eau Claire, WI||+24||F *||+9||77||82||81||240|
|T44||Caden Jacobson Lake Delton, WI||+24||F *||+7||82||79||79||240|
|T44||Maxamillian Xiong River Falls, WI||+24||F *||+5||85||78||77||240|
|T44||Josh Koszarek Waterford, WI||+24||F *||+5||81||82||77||240|
|T50||Marty Swab Menomonee Falls, WI||+25||F *||+13||79||77||85||241|
|T50||Stanford Swid Weston, WI||+25||F *||+11||77||81||83||241|
|T52||Charlie Schubbe Appleton, WI||+26||F||+14||77||79||86||242|
|T52||Davis Greene Neenah, WI||+26||F *||+10||83||77||82||242|
|T52||-||Alwang Deang Madison, WI||+26||F *||+9||78||83||81||242|
|T52||Mickey Keating Sun Prairie, WI||+26||F *||+7||86||77||79||242|
|T56||Ethan Carrick Sun Prairie, WI||+27||F||+15||79||77||87||243|
|T56||Trey Oswald Union, KY||+27||F *||+9||79||83||81||243|
|T56||Jacob Werlein Waunakee, WI||+27||F *||+8||84||79||80||243|
|T59||Alex Koenig Wales, WI||+28||F *||+11||81||80||83||244|
|T59||Braeden Resnick Rice Lake, WI||+28||F *||+10||80||82||82||244|
|61||Austin Georger Appleton, WI||+29||F *||+14||79||80||86||245|
|T62||Robert Warda Middleton, WI||+30||F *||+12||84||78||84||246|
|T62||Kaeden Nomm Minocqua, WI||+30||F *||+11||82||81||83||246|
|64||Will Summers Richfield, WI||+31||F *||+13||81||81||85||247|
|T65||Ben Hilbelink Menomonee Falls, WI||+33||F *||+15||83||79||87||249|
|T65||Bode King Hartland, WI||+33||F *||+10||86||81||82||249|
|67||William Hemauer Wauwatosa, WI||+34||F *||+15||78||85||87||250|
|68||Simon Mitchell Mineral Point, WI||+36||F *||+17||87||76||89||252|
|69||-||Spencer Stuke Delafield, WI||+39||F *||+17||81||85||89||255|
|70||Connor Nelson Waukesha, WI||+40||F *||+21||81||82||93||256|