As much as Jack Lutze tried not to become consumed with what playing partner Brock Hlinak was doing Thursday, the Brookfield golfer knew it’d be tough to ignore his Kaukauna rival.
The final round of the Morgan Stanley Tour Championship, an invitation-only event for the top golfers on the WPGA Junior Tour, essentially would be a match-play battle between the two.
“Throughout the whole day, I knew Brock was going to be my main competition,” Lutze wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. “He is quite a bit longer off the tee, which would help (Hlinak) on some short par-4s but I knew that if I stuck to my game plan I (would be) able to match his overall score for the hole. I didn’t want to view the day as a match, but as we got closer to the end I started to do some calculations to realize where I stood overall compared to him.”
After Hlinak, who started the day two shots behind, rallied twice to square their duel, Lutze made a critical birdie on the par-5 13th hole and held the lead through some tense holes down the stretch. Both golfers played their final five holes in 1-under-par, but Lutze emerged with the victory, shooting a 1-under 71 to edge Hlinak by one shot with a 5-under 139 total for 36 holes.
For Lutze, the victory takes some of the sting out of his runner-up finish to Kenosha’s Cameron Huss at last week’s Wisconsin Junior Masters in Racine. Huss (72-73) placed third Thursday.
“Walking off the green was an amazing feeling,” Lutze wrote of out-dueling Hlinak, who was in the hunt last week at the Wisconsin State Amateur in Minocqua and then qualified Tuesday for the upcoming Wisconsin State Open by shooting 7-under 65 at Ridgeway CC in Neenah.
“I was finally able to calm down and relax. During the high school season I shot consecutive 74s at Washington County and I know I went under par both times (this week)! It was surreal.”
Indeed, it was an tension-filled showdown against Hlinak from the get-go.
After matching pars on the first two holes, Hlinak drew to within one by making birdie on the par-5 third hole and pulled even when Lutze bogeyed the par-3 fourth. Hlinak gave one back with a bogey at the par-3 sixth and Lutze led by two again after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.
Both golfers turned in even-par 36 before Lutze bogeyed No. 10 and saw his lead shrink to one shot. Hlinak squared the match again with a birdie on the par-3 11th hole and, after both parred No. 12, it came down to strategy on the 548-yard, par-5 13th hole that yielded just three birdies.
“Brock striped his (drive) down the middle of the fairway, so all I can do is match him and be a little further back,” Lutze wrote. “I had a pretty decent drive in the fairway, and then laid up for my second shot. Brock, on the other hand, was on the green in two so I had to trust my yardage with my wedge and stick (an approach shot) in a makeable (birdie) range. Brock blew his first putt by and eventually three-putted. I was able to sneak my putt in for birdie.”
According to Lutze, Hlinak missed a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 14, where he was able to get up-and-down to save par. After routine pars on the par-3 16th hole that played as the third most-difficult hole on the course, Hlinak had one last par-5 to try and make something happen.
“I knew he would go for it in two so I just wanted to give myself the opportunity,” Lutze said. “With 230 yards to the pin, I hit a 4-iron since the wind was down and helping. He had around 180 or 190 and a mid-iron in. I would pure my shot and land in the middle of the green putting it closer than him. We both gave it a run for eagle but barely missed and had tap-in birdies.”
Lutze’s win boosts him to No. 3 on the WPGA Junior Player of the Year points standing with 964 points. He trails only Hlinak and Hartland’s Piercen Hunt in the season-long standings.
“My main goal going into this tournament was to rack up as many points as I could to make the Wisconsin Junior Cup team for next year,” said Lutze, who will play in the Wisconsin State Golf Association Junior Boys Championship next week at Rolling Meadows GC in Fond du Lac before playing a Golfweek Junior Tour event Aug. 11 and 12 at the Warren Course at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. ”With this win, I have gained positive confidence to strive for similar tournament performances. Overall I was elated to win and hopefully able to bring light to my future that could possibly lead to college golf.”
In the girls competition, Eau Claire's Lexi Meade shot 2-over-par 74 and completed a wire-to-wire victory in the 36-hole event. Her 3-over 147 total was six shots better than Loyola (Ill.)-bound Lorenza Martinez of Menomonee Falls and Madeline Koenig, a senior-to-be at Kettle Moraine HS in Wales.
Meade made her move both days on the back nine at Washington County. She made four birdies in a bogey-free 32 in the opening round, helping her salvage her 73. She made two more Thursday (at Nos. 14 and 17) around bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 to maintain a safe distance between her and Martinez and Koenig, who finished eagle-bogey to get within six shots of the winner.
"The back nine at Washington County is a great layout," Meade wrote in an email interview with Wisconsin.Golf. "Every hole is right there in front of you, no tricks or gimmicks. It played to my strengths of length with the driver and accuracy with the irons. The greens were in excellent condition and I putted really well, which created a great combination for scoring."
Meade also credited playing partners Rachel Kauflin, Jessica Guisser and Koenig for creating a relaxed competitive atmosphere.
"We were all laughing, chatting, and cheering each other on," Meade wrote. "That created a really positive vibe that allowed me to play great golf."
Meade and most of the girls competing in the event will now turn their attention to the high school season. Practice begins Monday and one of the first big events on the schedule is Thursday with the Hartford Invitational at Washington County.
"It's definitely a confidence booster, and I'm extremely happy to head into the high school season fresh off a good win," wrote Meade, whose Eau Claire Memorial team opens play Friday at the Barron Invitational. "As far as my expectations, I just to focus on what I can control: Remaining positive, approaching everything with a good attitude and putting in plenty of hard work. If I combine all of that with going out and enjoying the game, I think good play will follow."
|1||Jack Lutze 2020, Brookfield, WI||-1||F||-5||68||71||139||350|
|2||Brock Hlinak 2019, Kaukauna, WI||-2||F||-4||70||70||140||300|
|3||Cameron Huss 2020, Kenosha, WI||+1||F||+1||72||73||145||250|
|T4||Connor Brown 2019, Racine||+2||F||+2||72||74||146||187.50|
|T4||Drake Wilcox 2020, Sheboygan, WI||+1||F||+2||73||73||146||187.50|
|T6||Elliott Nielsen 2018, Fond du lac, WI||+1||F||+4||75||73||148||145|
|T6||Danny Sanicki 2019, Menomonee Falls, WI||+1||F||+4||75||73||148||145|
|T8||Ryan Schuelke 2018, Manawa, WI||-2||F||+5||79||70||149||120|
|T8||Joshua Teplin 2020, Mequon, WI||-3||F||+5||80||69||149||120|
|T8||Austin Thyes 2019, Sheboygan Falls, WI||+4||F||+5||73||76||149||120|
|T11||Steven Sanicki 2019, Menomonee Falls, WI||+9||F||+6||69||81||150||95|
|T11||Maxwell Schmidtke 2019, Sheboygan, WI||E||F||+6||78||72||150||95|
|13||Ty Kretz 2021, Marinette||+4||F||+7||75||76||151||80|
|T14||Logan Lillehaug 2020, Frederic, WI||+4||F||+8||76||76||152||73.50|
|T14||Jack Summers 2020, Richfield, WI||+5||F||+8||75||77||152||73.50|
|T16||Evan Thomas 2019, Junction City, WI||+1||F||+9||80||73||153||57.50|
|T16||Jiseung Choi 2020, Houghton, MI||+4||F||+9||77||76||153||57.50|
|T16||Zach Bernhardt 2019, Eau Claire, WI||+6||F||+9||75||78||153||57.50|
|T16||Zach Walsh 2019, Elm Grove, WI||+8||F||+9||73||80||153||57.50|
|T20||Marty Swab 2020, Menomonee Falls, WI||+2||F||+10||80||74||154||37.50|
|T20||Sean Murphy 2019, Middleton||+4||F||+10||78||76||154||37.50|
|T20||Preston Cedergren 2020, Green Bay, WI||+3||F||+10||79||75||154||37.50|
|T20||Jacob Beckman 2021, Middleton, WI||+5||F||+10||77||77||154||37.50|
|T24||Jamozzy Skenandore 2020, De Pere, WI||+1||F||+11||82||73||155||17.50|
|T24||Jack Anderson 2019, Brookfield, WI||+7||F||+11||76||79||155||17.50|
|T24||Joseph Forsting 2019, Edgerton, WI||+8||F||+11||75||80||155||17.50|
|T24||Zak Kulka 2019, Beaver Dam, WI||+9||F||+11||74||81||155||17.50|
|T28||Ian Behringer 2019, Manitowoc, WI||+1||F||+12||83||73||156||4.17|
|T28||Christian Staudt 2021, Mequon, WI||+4||F||+12||80||76||156||4.17|
|T28||Samuel Nielsen 2020, Fond Du Lac, WI||+6||F||+12||78||78||156||4.17|
|T28||Mason Gardner 2018, Waupaca, WI||+8||F||+12||76||80||156||4.17|
|T28||Reis Schweiner 2019, Sherwood, WI||+8||F||+12||76||80||156||4.17|
|T28||Mason Schulz 2019, Mukwonago, WI||+8||F||+12||76||80||156||4.17|
|34||Max Schneider 2019, Neenah, WI||+12||F||+13||73||84||157|
|T35||Thomas Kriewaldt 2020, Madison, WI||+2||F||+14||84||74||158|
|T35||Kevin McMeans 2018, Manitowoc||+5||F||+14||81||77||158|
|T35||Tyler Cleaves 2019, Kaukauna, WI||+7||F||+14||79||79||158|
|38||Grant Wininger 2019, Racine, WI||+5||F||+17||84||77||161|
|T39||Alex Koenig 2023, Wales, WI||+6||F||+18||84||78||162|
|T39||Ansen Nomm 2020, Minocqua, WI||+8||F||+18||82||80||162|
|T39||James Johnson 2019, Greendale, WI||+10||F||+18||80||82||162|
|42||Kyle Wille 2019, Edgerton, WI||+9||F||+19||82||81||163|
|43||Aaron Kresse 2020, Wales, WI||+9||F||+23||86||81||167|
|44||Kadin Kleman 2020, Janesville, WI||+14||F||+26||84||86||170|
|1||Lexi Meade 2019, Eau Claire, WI||+2||F||+3||73||74||147||350|
|T2||Lorenza Martinez 2018, Menomonee Falls, WI||+3||F||+9||78||75||153||275|
|T2||Madeline Koenig 2019, Wales, WI||+6||F||+9||75||78||153||275|
|T4||Elise Hoven 2021, Grafton, WI||+6||F||+12||78||78||156||187.50|
|T4||Rachel Kauflin 2020, Wauwatosa, WI||+7||F||+12||77||79||156||187.50|
|6||Speedy Kent 2018, Mequon, WI||+3||F||+14||83||75||158||150|
|T7||Annie Balduzzi 2019, Onalaska, WI||+7||F||+15||80||79||159||120|
|T7||Courtney Matschke 2018, Franklin, WI||+6||F||+15||81||78||159||120|
|T7||Erika Priebe 2018, Appleton, WI||+9||F||+15||78||81||159||120|
|T7||Grace Suter 2020, Oconomowoc, WI||+9||F||+15||78||81||159||120|
|T7||Sarah Balding 2022, Brookfield, WI||+11||F||+15||76||83||159||120|
|12||Anouska Siva 2019, Brookfield, WI||+6||F||+16||82||78||160||90|
|13||Samantha Krutz 2020, Brookfield, WI||+8||F||+17||81||80||161||80|
|14||Holly Murphy 2020, Lake Geneva WI||+8||F||+19||83||80||163||75|
|15||Kendra Swanson 2019, Beaver Dam, WI||+17||F||+21||76||89||165||70|
|T16||Sophia Dooman 2019, Janesville, WI||+7||F||+22||87||79||166||57.50|
|T16||Jessica Guiser 2024, Hartland, WI||+5||F||+22||89||77||166||57.50|
|T16||Brighton Young 2021, Loves Park, IL||+8||F||+22||86||80||166||57.50|
|T16||Mallory Swartz 2020, Franklin, WI||+10||F||+22||84||82||166||57.50|
|20||Gianna Gastrow 2018, Hartland, WI||+6||F||+24||90||78||168||45|
|21||Lauren Peterson 2022, Hartland||+13||F||+25||84||85||169||40|
|22||Caylie Kotlowski 2021, Stoughton, WI||+13||F||+26||85||85||170||35|
|T23||Samantha Soulier 2019, Waunakee, WI||+14||F||+30||88||86||174||27.50|
|T23||Lily Sheppard 2019, Sherwood, WI||+23||F||+30||79||95||174||27.50|
|25||Treva Dodd 2024, Brookfield, WI||+16||F||+31||87||88||175||20|
|26||Kallie Lux 2021, Janesville, WI||+11||F||+32||93||83||176||15|
|27||Bailee Bussan 2018, Cuba City, WI||+12||F||+33||93||84||177||10|
|28||Madison Haugen 2024, Brookfield, WI||+18||F||+36||90||90||180||5|
|29||Jolie Guyette 2021, De Pere, WI||+26||F||+60||106||98||204||5|