AmFam3 Mario Tiziani

Mario Tiziani | 2021 American Family Insurance Championship

Mario Tiziani came into this week's first stage of PGA Tour Champions Qualifying School as prepared as any rejuvenated 51-year-old golfer backed by a successful career as a sports agent possibly could.

He spent some time in Arizona playing and practicing. The Madison native paid particular attention to chipping and putting and was determined to arrive at his qualifier at Buckhorn Springs Golf & Country Club in Valrico, Fla., "not having anything left to chance." 

Tiziani left Friday with a chance, moving one small step closer to joining brother-in-law Steve Stricker and fellow Madison native Jerry Kelly on golf's senior circuit.

Tiziani shot his second straight 2-under-par 70 and moved up four spots into sole possession of seventh place at 7-under 281. The former University of Wisconsin golfer finished 10 strokes behind medalist David Branshaw and four shots clear of the 72-hole score it took to finish among the top 17 and advance to the Q-School Finals Dec. 7-10 at the TPC Tampa Bay.

That's where the task of gaining fully exempt status on the PGA Tour Champions will get tricky.

Only the top five finishers at the final stage of Q-School earn fully exempt status for the 2022 season. Those who finish sixth through 30th are eligible for associate membership for the 2022 season, allowing them to enter Monday qualifiers throughout the year for the final four spots into that week's event.

For now, though, Tiziani will celebrate successfully negotiating the first hurdle in his quest to get there.

"Getting through this stage means a lot," Tiziani said in a voice text to Wisconsin.Golf. "I've worked hard this year. I've kind of put the clubs back on my shoulder in January, I guess, and worked hard to get competitive again. It means a lot to get through this.

"The Finals are no joke. There are only five spots. It's going to be guns a blazing, I think, at least a lot more than this stage, for sure. Only five guys make it and you know guys are going to play well. You're not going to be able to be very cautious like I was this first stage and kind of pick off a birdie here and there."

Tiziani picked off an eagle two holes into the final round Friday, holing a long putt on the par-5 second hole to jump to 2-under. He added birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 and another birdie at No. 12, allowing him to withstand bogeys at Nos. 13, 15 and 18.

"At that point, I knew that pars were going to be good," Tiziani said of the stretch after his eagle. "I kept it going, I stayed aggressive for the most part and I was 5-under through 12. I definitely limped in, but a couple of (the bogeys) were bad breaks.

"It is an ebb and flow during the day. There are tough holes. You know there are holes that are coming up that require demanding shots at times. Those are all things that weigh on your mind, try to stay in the present and not to get too far ahead. At the end, I knew I was in good shape. It was a tough day. I was pretty sure my score was good so there wasn't a lot of stress at the end."

The same couldn't be said for Fox Point's Michael Crowley and Menomonie native Ben Walter at the second of the three first-stage qualifiers in Nipton, Calif.

Crowley, the head professional at Morningstar Golfers Club in Waukesha, shot a closing 72 at Primm Valley GC to finish in a tie for 23rd at 2-under 282 with Walter, a two-time Big Ten Conference champion at UW back in the day whose comeback from a 72-73 start also fell short. Walter, who closed 68-69, and Crowley finished two shots outside of the top 17.

"The experience was great," Crowley wrote via Facebook Messenger. "Coming off a 16th-place finish at the (PGA) National Senior Professionals Championship, I was feeling really good about my game. ... I was really proud of how I manage my golf game, how I hung in there mentally and I hit it really very well. I didn’t miss a green until my 27th hole of the tournament. But (I was ) disappointed (because) I gave myself a lot of good opportunities, good looks, and just couldn’t capitalize on those opportunities. I had it right there in front of me and next time I will capitalize on those opportunities and make it through."

Walter added via text message: "I’m pretty disappointed; I played well enough to advance but just didn’t get it done. But, I’m also really happy to be back competing, my game's come a long way in the last few months, and I’m looking forward to finding more to play in."

Fox Point's Skip Kendall, Brookfield native Tim Cantwell, Jr. and Mosinee's Kelly Berger will compete in a Stage 1 qualifier next week in Florida. Tiziani, who made his PGA Tour Champions debut at the American Family Insurance Championship (T-71) in Madison in June and finished T-11 at the Sanford International in September, knows he is fortunate to keep alive his quest for a full-time gig on the senior circuit.

"I've got to get better still," Tiziani said. "The nerves are a thing. I think they are for everybody, but my goal is to conquer those and just be better when the heat is on. I'm getting better, but that's my goal."

PGA Tour Champions: Madison's Mario Tiziani at Stage 1 Qualifying School | FINAL results (Buckhorn Springs GC-Valrico, Fla.)

Pos. Player Total Thru Today R1 R2 R3 R4 Score
Wisconsin leaderboard
7 Mario Tiziani -7 F -2 70 71 70 70 281
Full leaderboard
Approximately top 17 advance to Finals
1 David Branshaw -17 F -3 68 69 65 69 271
2 Rob Labritz -15 F -4 66 69 70 68 273
3 Michael Muehr -14 F E 69 69 64 72 274
T4 Jean-Francois Remesy -11 F -2 68 72 67 70 277
T4 Jay Williamson -11 F -3 68 70 70 69 277
6 Tom Werkmeister -9 F -2 70 72 67 70 279
7 Mario Tiziani -7 F -2 70 71 70 70 281
T8 Peter Baker -6 F 1 67 69 73 73 282
T8 Patrick Sheehan -6 F 1 71 70 68 73 282
T8 Guy Boros -6 F 2 69 70 69 74 282
T11 Neil Thompson -5 F -1 71 70 71 71 283
T11 Gibby Gilbert III -5 F -1 69 69 74 71 283
T11 Alan McLean -5 F E 69 70 72 72 283
T14 Grant Downey -4 F -1 70 72 71 71 284
T14 Keith Horne -4 F 1 70 70 71 73 284
T16 Scott Pieri -3 F -5 70 71 77 67 285
T16 Jesús Amaya -3 F -1 68 72 74 71 285
T16 Mardan Mamat -3 F 4 69 73 67 76 285
T19 Ian Doig -1 F -1 76 71 69 71 287
T19 Kevin Dillen -1 F 2 70 72 71 74 287
T19 Eddie Griswold -1 F 1 70 73 71 73 287
T22 Harold Wallace E F -2 80 68 70 70 288
T22 Jason Widener E F -1 71 71 75 71 288
T22 Pat Patterson E F -1 73 72 72 71 288
T25 Hugh Royer III 1 F E 71 73 73 72 289
T25 Del Ponchock 1 F 1 73 77 66 73 289
T27 Warren Jurkowitz 2 F E 73 73 72 72 290
T27 Bobby Tracy 2 F 1 74 71 72 73 290
T27 Spike McRoy 2 F 1 70 76 71 73 290
30 Brian Wilson 3 F* -2 75 73 73 70 291
T31 Joe Kern 4 F 2 73 70 75 74 292
T31 Marion Dantzler 4 F 2 72 74 72 74 292
T31 Tim Carpenter 4 F 3 71 74 72 75 292
T34 Robert Gamez 6 F* 2 75 74 71 74 294
T34 Michael Norman 6 F* 1 80 73 68 73 294
T34 Stephane Chauffour 6 F* -2 73 77 74 70 294
T37 Jeff Lyons 7 F* 4 73 73 73 76 295
T37 Michael Brumfield 7 F* 3 74 71 75 75 295
T37 David Morland IV 7 F 5 72 74 72 77 295
T40 Chris Hockaday 10 F* 4 75 73 74 76 298
T40 Jesus Osmar 10 F* 2 73 76 75 74 298
42 Ricky Morton 11 F* 7 70 74 76 79 299
43 Chad Proehl 12 F* 1 73 82 72 73 300
T44 Robert Forde 13 F* 3 78 72 76 75 301
T44 Robert Sullivan 13 F* 3 82 75 69 75 301
46 Phillip Walters 14 F* 4 78 76 72 76 302
47 Mathias Grönberg 15 F* 1 78 77 75 73 303
48 Mike Bauman 16 F* 1 75 79 77 73 304
49 Bruce Henning 17 F* 2 78 76 77 74 305
50 Dusti Watson 18 F* 3 74 77 80 75 306
T51 Franz Pfoestl 20 F* 4 82 74 76 76 308
T51 James Almand 20 F* 2 80 75 79 74 308
T53 Tommy Boykin 21 F* 6 78 79 74 78 309
T53 Paul Wilson 21 F* 4 76 82 75 76 309
T55 Red Resener 22 F* 8 80 74 76 80 310
T55 John Smoltz 22 F* 4 77 80 77 76 310
57 Marcus Eglseer 23 F* 6 75 82 76 78 311
58 Bart Whicker 26 F* 2 84 78 78 74 314
59 Greg Hart 27 F* 2 81 80 80 74 315
60 Darrin Vaughan 33 F* 7 82 75 85 79 321
61 Robert Krause 35 F* 2 84 85 80 74 323
62 Franjo Blazevic 37 F* 6 84 85 78 78 325
63 Charles Wyatt 38 F* 19 80 76 79 91 326
64 Hyun Baik 39 F* 12 82 82 79 84 327
65 Ed Sanford 43 F* 9 88 84 78 81 331
WD Greg Sweatt E -- -- 77 71 -- -- 148
WD Tony Smith E -- -- 75 75 -- -- 150
WD Scott Hood E -- -- 79 -- -- -- 79
WD Stephen Weaver E -- -- 85 -- -- -- 85
DQ Vance Welch E -- -- 76 75 73 -- 224

PGA Tour Champions: Fox Point's Michael Crowley, Menomonie's Ben Walter at Stage 1 Qualifying School | FINAL results (Primm Valley GC-Nipton, Calif.)

Pos. Player Total Thru Today R1 R2 R3 R4 Score
Wisconsin leaderboard
T23 Ben Walter -2 F -2 72 73 68 69 282
T23 Michael Crowley -2 F 1 69 72 69 72 282
Full leaderboard
Approximately top 17 advance to Finals
1 Mark Walker -15 F -5 66 68 69 66 269
T2 David Berganio, Jr. -13 F -9 70 72 67 62 271
T2 Tom Kalinowski -13 F -2 66 68 68 69 271
4 Brian Cooper -12 F 1 69 67 64 72 272
5 Harry Rudolph -10 F -1 71 67 66 70 274
6 Bryan Hoops -9 F -3 71 65 71 68 275
T7 Craig Bowden -8 F -2 70 68 69 69 276
T7 Joe Summerhays -8 F E 69 66 70 71 276
T7 Ryan Dreyer -8 F -1 68 71 67 70 276
T7 Chad Sorensen -8 F -1 71 68 67 70 276
T7 Eric Bogar -8 F 1 69 70 65 72 276
12 Kevin Baker -7 F 1 71 65 69 72 277
13 Dick Mast -6 F -2 68 73 68 69 278
T14 Bob Niger -5 F -4 72 70 70 67 279
T14 Eddie Fernandes -5 F -2 70 70 70 69 279
T16 Rick Garboski -4 F -4 72 72 69 67 280
T16 Chris Hunsucker -4 F E 68 70 71 71 280
T16 Dave Cunningham -4 F 2 69 70 68 73 280
T19 Stephen Mondshine -3 F -3 71 71 71 68 281
T19 Bobby Kalinowski -3 F -2 73 70 69 69 281
T19 Greg Bruckner -3 F E 70 69 71 71 281
T19 Tim Bogue -3 F 2 68 70 70 73 281
T23 Ben Walter -2 F -2 72 73 68 69 282
T23 Michael Crowley -2 F 1 69 72 69 72 282
T25 Matthew Blackey -1 F -3 75 69 71 68 283
T25 Kendal Yonomoto -1 F -3 68 77 70 68 283
T25 Bob May -1 F 1 77 65 69 72 283
28 Paul Holtby E F E 67 71 75 71 284
T29 John Balfanz 1 F E 67 72 75 71 285
T29 Robert Secrest 1 F 4 71 71 68 75 285
31 Steve Blake 3 F* -4 75 71 74 67 287
T32 Rob West 4 F E 76 71 70 71 288
T32 Chris Gum 4 F 3 71 72 71 74 288
T34 Christian Bennett 5 F 1 68 76 73 72 289
T34 Steve Jurgensen 5 F* E 75 72 71 71 289
T34 John Urquhart 5 F 1 73 74 70 72 289
T37 Dane Staton 6 F* 1 75 72 71 72 290
T37 Craig Kanada 6 F 3 70 73 73 74 290
T39 Brian Bane 7 F 2 70 74 74 73 291
T39 EA Tischler 7 F* 2 72 71 75 73 291
41 Kent Fukushima 8 F* 1 75 70 75 72 292
42 Christopher Woods 12 F* 5 75 71 74 76 296
43 Carey Hodsden 13 F* 2 73 75 76 73 297
T44 Jae Suh 14 F* 5 74 75 73 76 298
T44 Chris Bragg 14 F* 2 79 77 69 73 298
T44 Eric Rustand 14 F* 1 74 73 79 72 298
47 Ony Velez 15 F* 4 77 75 72 75 299
T48 Michael Browning 16 F* 7 77 73 72 78 300
T48 Matt Mankin 16 F* 5 71 76 77 76 300
T50 Patrick Sheehan 18 F* 7 74 74 76 78 302
T50 Carlo Grever 18 F* 4 77 77 73 75 302
T50 Fred Mills 18 F* 2 75 79 75 73 302
53 Sal Gaytan 22 F* 8 77 77 73 79 306
T54 Michael Tidik 23 F* 8 76 76 76 79 307
T54 Ricky Haag 23 F* 3 82 79 72 74 307
T56 Jayson Ray 25 F* 3 76 74 85 74 309
T56 Pomp Braswell II 25 F* 2 78 78 80 73 309
T58 Stephan Kleemeyer 28 F* 4 76 81 80 75 312
T58 Brett Thomas 28 F* 2 82 78 79 73 312
60 Brian Carlson 30 F* 9 80 74 80 80 314
61 Willie Toney 32 F* 3 79 76 87 74 316
62 Charles Manhard 33 F* 7 80 82 77 78 317
63 James Connolly 44 F* 12 80 82 83 83 328
64 Nick Morgan 51 F* 12 84 89 79 83 335
65 Victor Hudson 56 F* 17 90 81 81 88 340
66 Kelly Todd 59 F* 24 91 81 76 95 343
WD Dale Beddo E -- -- 72 76 -- -- 148
WD Jerry Heinz E -- -- 87 82 75 -- 244
DQ Klas Tenmark E -- -- 81 72 73 -- 226
DQ Stephen Laub E -- -- 75 76 80 -- 231
DQ Randy Jewell E -- -- 73 81 77 -- 231
DQ Mark Bartlett E -- -- 75 84 -- -- 159
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