Ernest Kocs

Ernest Kocs, Madison

OREGON — The wind blew hard enough long enough Friday at The Legend at Bergamont Golf Club to blow a person into the middle of next week.

Ernest Kocs was just glad he found a way to breeze into Monday.

Two eagles helped Kocs offset a triple-bogey and shoot even-par 72 during pre-qualifying for next week's American Family Insurance Championship as the former Delavan-Darien golfer who now calls Madison home shared medalist honors with two other golfers. It also earned hime one of five spots in Monday's open qualifying for the final four spots in the fourth annual PGA Tour Champions event, which starts Friday at University Ridge Golf Course.

Britt Pavelonis of Harrisburg, Illinois, and Mike Woodcock of Chatham, Ont., joined Kocs in the tie for first. Steve Pleis of Wentzville, Missouri, and Gary March of Arlington Heights, Ill., shot 73s to grab the final two berths in the field at Bergamont.

Madison's Pat Gorman, who played with Kocs in the second group of the day, shot 75 and finished eighth. Sturtevant's Charlie Brown shot 77 and tied for 12th while Waukesha's Eddie Terasa (79), Mosinee's Kelly Berger (80) and Sherwood's Glenn Fischer (81) finished back in the pack 34-player field.

"I was hoping to shoot sub-70, but after I holed out for a par 4 on (No.) 18, I had a feeling 72 would get me through the pre-qualifier to Monday," Kocs wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.golf. "The wind was brutal starting from about 10:00 (Friday) morning. The greens dried out some and putting was tough."

Kocs said he hit only one poor shot all day — "A 4-iron on the fourth hole (that) hit the cart path; I lost the ball," he wrote of a bad break that led to a triple-bogey 6. But he bounced back with the first of his two eagles on No. 5, one of three par-5s he hit in two. He birdied the second (No. 9) and eagled the third (No. 11) to get to 2-under only to have bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17 drop him to even.

"I've played more golf in Europe over the last seven years since turning 50, but only a few tournaments per year," wrote Kocs, who has played in several European Senior Tour Qualifying School stages. "So I m not used playing in 'big' events."

Monday will be one of the biggest.

The 37-player field will include 2016 AmFam Championship runner-up Mike Goodes; Esteban Toledo, who shot an opening-round 63 that same year; and Shaun Micheel, who won the 2003 PGA Championship. Bob May, who lost in a three-hole playoff to Tiger Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship, will be there. So will Madison native Jim Schuman, the reigning Wisconsin State Senior Open champion who played in the first two AmFam Championships.

"If the weather is nice on Monday, it’ll probably take a score of 5- or 6-under to get into the AmFam," Kocs wrote. "(I) hope to have you interview me Monday afternoon."


Pos
Player
Thru
Total
Strokes
 
QUALIFIERS (5)
T1Ernest Kocs  Madison, WIFE72 
T1Britt Pavelonis  Harrisburg, ILFE72 
T1Mike Woodcock  Chatham, ONFE72 
T4Steve Pleis  Wentzville, MOF+173 
T4Gary March  Arlington Heights, ILF+173 
DID NOT QUALIFY
T6David Cooke  Vestavia Hills, ALF+274 
T6Chad Proehl  Urbandale, IAF+274 
8Pat Gorman  Madison, WIF+375 
T9Stephen Mondshine  Sugarland, TXF+476 
T9Dennis Hendershott  Paris, ONF+476 
T9E.A. Tischler  Munster, INF+476 
T12Charlie Brown  Sturtevant, WIF+577 
T12Clayton Devers  Shawnee, KSF+577 
T14Brian Fogt  Wildwood, MOF+678 
T14Darrel Holden (a)  Shawnee, KSF+678 
T14Dan Zimmerman (a)  Wichita, KSF+678 
T14Skip Taylor  Flat Rock, NCF+678 
T14Scott McGihon  Indian Wells, CAF+678 
T19Eddie Terasa  Waukesha, WIF+779 
T19Mike Grob  Billings, MTF+779 
T19Jayson Ray  North Fork, CAF+779 
T19David Noto  Clarkesville, GAF+779 
T19Tom Rasmussen  Roswell, GAF+779 
T24Kelly Berger  Mosinee, WIF+880 
T24John Connelly  Perrysburg, OHF+880 
T24Mark Caffee (a)  Wildwood, FLF+880 
T27David Plumb  Bowling Green, KYF+981 
T27Glenn Fischer  Sherwood, WIF+981 
29Christopher Pond  Jackson, MIF+1082 
30James Connolly  Houston, TXF+1183 
31Thomas Edwards  Suwanee, GAF+1284 
32Steve Bevilacqua (a)  Oswego, ILF+1385 
33Anthony McMullin  Mason, OHF+1587 
34Victor Hudson (a)  San Carlos, CAF+2294