Ben Bendtsen III stopped chasing things like the U.S. Open nearly a decade ago, when he left minitour golf to run the family bakery in his native Racine.
Peter Webb was starting to wonder if a kringle career might be in his better interest, too, after the Madison native failed to advance from U.S. Open local qualifiers by one shot three years in a row between 2014 and 2016. (Imagine the devastation a year ago after failing to advance by three whole shots.)
Patience and persistence scored major victories Tuesday when Bendtsen and Webb shared medalist honors at U.S. Open local qualifying at, of all places, the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Haven. Both shot 2-under-par 70s to lead five qualifiers to the 36-hole sectional qualifiers June 4 — Bendtsen has asked for Springfield, Ohio, and Webb has requested Memphis, Tennessee.
Hartland mini-tour pro Charlie Delsman, who played with Webb, shot 72 to finish third while former Mackenzie Tour/PGA Tour-Canada golfer Maxwell Hosking, who played with Bendtsen, shot 73 and placed fourth. The last spot went to former Northern Iowa golfer David Spenger of Luxemburg, who shot 74 and won a four-way playoff over UW-Green Bay golfer George Kneiser, 2017 WSGA player of the year Jack Schultz of Whitefish Bay and minitour golfer Sam Frank of Delafield to move one step closer to Shinnecock Hills.
"I was pretty fortunate to tee off in the (third) group," said Bendtsen, who birdied Nos. 2, 6 and 7 to get to 3-under and then held on for dear life on the back nine where he made one bogey (No. 11) and nine pars. "The wind was down for the first seven holes and then it picked up on the back nine."
Webb, meanwhile, felt fortunate to make the turn in even-par and even have a chance to catch Bendtsen. His outlook changed when he birdied Nos. 4 and 5 to get to 2-under before making four consecutive pars to finish the round.
"It was good to finally get through," Webb said. "A lot of hard work finally paid off."
Indeed, the last nine months since turning professional have not been without his share of disappointments.
At qualifying for the Mackenzie Tour, Webb shot 73-74-72-76 and, at 7-over 295, missed the top 40 needed for conditional status by five shots. It means that Webb will spend his first full summer as a professional trying to cobble together a schedule of events on the Dakotas Tour, the North Star Tour and an assortment of Web.com Tour and PGA Tour qualifiers in the Midwest.
"I've learned a lot, just more so what I need to improve upon," said Webb, a 2017 Valparaiso (Indiana) graduate who spent the last four months working on his game in Arizona. "Just playing with a bunch of guys who are all as good as me, if not better. Just seeing the aspects of their game, I could say 'Whoa, that really works.' I think I learned a lot, logistically, too. What practice schedule works best. What tournament schedule works best. But, more so, what aspects of my game can get better.
"Having a sense of direction on where I want to go in the near-future is nice, rather than practicing just to practice There's a purpose to the practice now."
If Tuesday was a barometer on progress, Webb had to feel good about the state of his game. With Hawks Landing GC member Rich Williams on the bag, he hit 13 straight fairways after missing the one on No. 10 to start his round and hit 15 of 18 greens. He didn't have a birdie putt longer than 18 feet.
His ball-striking stats mirrored Bendtsen's almost to the number. Bendtsen, however, arrived at them a different ways — without a hint of practice.
"I've only played in the qualifier one other time and I qualified that year as well," Bendtsen said, referring to 2009 when he shot a 71 at The Club at Strawberry Creek and made it to the sectional. "I have some friends always bothering me to play in it. Usually I'm working so I don't. But I really like the Irish Course so I figured I'd sign up this year just because it was up there."
"I don't put much time into golf anymore. I probably play two or three tournaments a year, max. I might play twice a week (at Meadowbrook CC in Racine). I don't practice anymore. It's nice when to come out when you don't play as much or don't take it to seriously and still compete with these guys."
Bendtsen, 32, showed a year ago that he still had some game when he shot 69-73-70-74 and placed fifth at the Wisconsin State Open at North Shore CC in Mequon, three shots behind Hosking. But does a guy who is usually in the bakery by 3 a.m. has enough game to cook up a tasty Cinderella story?
"It's a long day," Bendtsen said. "You just have to grind it out. The thing is you have 36 holes and only one or two guys will make it out. You have to go pretty low and be on that day. You kind of have to go for certain things and go for pins and be more aggressive since only one or two guys get in.
"If you shoot an 80, it doesn't really matter; you're not going to be playing the next week or anything. It's either you're in or you're out."
|T1||Ben Bendtsen III (p) Mt. Pleasant, WI||-2||F||70|
|T1||Peter Webb (p) Madison, WI||-2||F *||70|
|3||Charlie Delsman (p) Hartland, WI||E||F *||72|
|4||Max Hosking (p) Madison, WI||+1||F||73|
|T5||David Spengler (p) Luxemburg, WI||+2||F||74|
|ALTERNATES - IN ORDER (2)|
|T5||George Kneiser (a) Oconomowoc, WI||+2||F *||74|
|T5||Sam Frank (p) Delafield, WI||+2||F||74|
|DID NOT QUALIFY|
|T5||Jack Schultz (a) Whitefish Bay, WI||+2||F||74|
|T9||Andrew Knoll (a) New Berlin, WI||+3||F||75|
|T9||Matthew McIntosh (a) Hartland, WI||+3||F||75|
|T9||John Langhoff (p) Delafield, WI||+3||F *||75|
|T12||Michael Higgins (p) Madison, WI||+4||F||76|
|T12||Ryan Franklin (p) Hartford, WI||+4||F *||76|
|T12||Andrew Steinhofer (p) Madison, WI||+4||F||76|
|T12||Don Leafstrand (p) Ocala, FL||+4||F||76|
|T12||Mick Smith (p) Australia||+4||F||76|
|T17||Bryce Burke (a) Jackson, WI||+5||F||77|
|T17||Zach Sklebar (p) Fargo, ND||+5||F *||77|
|T17||Kaylor Steger (p) Mount Pleasant, WI||+5||F *||77|
|T17||Josh Thomas (a) Anaheim, CA||+5||F||77|
|T17||Konrad Deka (a) Franklin Park, IL||+5||F *||77|
|T17||Cody Sundberg (a) Chicago, IL||+5||F *||77|
|T17||Pete Kuhl (a) Morton, IL||+5||F *||77|
|T17||Sam Galloway (a) Neenah, WI||+5||F||77|
|T25||David Bach (p) Brown Deer, WI||+6||F *||78|
|T25||Evan Wartgow (p) Fort Atkinson, WI||+6||F *||78|
|T27||James Gunsalus (a) Brookfield, WI||+7||F *||79|
|T27||Glenn Przybylski (a) Frankfort, IL||+7||F||79|
|T27||Greg Fehrman (p) Wausau, WI||+7||F *||79|
|T27||Chris James (a) Cedar Rapids, IA||+7||F *||79|
|T31||Kelly Berger (p) Mosinee, WI||+8||F||80|
|T31||Wyatt Liston (a) Houghton, MI||+8||F||80|
|T31||Jarrett Kreger (a) Hinsdale, IL||+8||F *||80|
|T34||Kyle Driscoll (p) Pewaukee, WI||+9||F *||81|
|T34||Michael Jensen (a) Hartford, WI||+9||F||81|
|T34||Daniel Conti (a) Mount Pleasant, WI||+9||F||81|
|T34||Evan Eissens (a) Fulton, IL||+9||F||81|
|T38||Robert Maddens (p) Vero Beach, FL||+10||F||82|
|T38||Joe DuChateau (a) Fond Du Lac, WI||+10||F *||82|
|T38||Mike Mueller (a) Whitefish Bay, WI||+10||F *||82|
|T38||Christopher Vendl (p) St. Germain, WI||+10||F *||82|
|T38||Chad LaFever (a) Buttedesmorts, WI||+10||F||82|
|T38||Brent Barnhill (p) Woodstock, IL||+10||F *||82|
|T38||Lu Yang (p) Milwaukee, WI||+10||F||82|
|T45||Jeremy Wesemann (a) Merton, WI||+11||F||83|
|T45||Jake Wisniewski (p) Sussex, WI||+11||F *||83|
|T45||Chris Kostrewa (a) Wales, WI||+11||F||83|
|T45||Gene Kiela III (p) Plymouth, WI||+11||F||83|
|T45||Dustin Dishaw (a) Crystal Falls, MI||+11||F||83|
|T45||Jim Doing (a) Verona, WI||+11||F *||83|
|T51||Thomas Holderfield (a) Augusta, GA||+12||F *||84|
|T51||Joshua Koch (p) Windermere, FL||+12||F||84|
|T51||Robbie Morway (a) Mequon, WI||+12||F *||84|
|T54||David Pyszora (a) Neenah, WI||+13||F *||85|
|T54||Corey Sell (a) Oconomowoc, WI||+13||F||85|
|T56||Gunnar Stein (a) Houghton, MI||+14||F *||86|
|T56||David Zeisse (p) Milwaukee, WI||+14||F||86|
|T56||Paul Koszarek (a) Waterford, WI||+14||F *||86|
|T56||Sullivan Schrandt (a) Cambria, WI||+14||F *||86|
|T60||Nick St. Onge (p) Sheboygan, WI||+15||F||87|
|T60||Mason Kent (a) Fort Atkinson, WI||+15||F||87|
|T62||Kyle Murison (a) Lake Geneva, WI||+16||F||88|
|T62||Tyler Raatz (a) Cecil, WI||+16||F||88|
|T64||Herving Sanchez (a) Crystal Lake, IL||+17||F *||89|
|T64||Rob Pero (a) Cambridge||+17||F *||89|
|T66||Karl Hess (p) Appleton, WI||+18||F *||90|
|T66||Reb Banas (a) Winnetka, IL||+18||F||90|
|T68||Eric Van Tubbergen (a) Racine, WI||+19||F *||91|
|T68||Will Waller (a) Pleasant Prairie, WI||+19||F *||91|
|T68||Stu Bloom (p) Waukesha, WI||+19||F *||91|
|71||Tyler Torok (a) Belleville, WI||+21||F||93|
|72||Jade Royston (a) Wisconsin Dells, WI||+24||F *||96|
|73||John Neal (a) Fort Mill, SC||+25||F||97|
PosPlayer+/-ThruTotal QUALIFIERS (5)T1Ben Bendtsen III (p) Mt. Pleasant, WI-2F70 T1Peter Webb (p) Madison, WI-2F *70 3Charlie Delsman (p) H…