JANESVILLE – The college kids have been tough to beat in the Wisconsin State Amateur lately – the last eight winners have been 22 or younger – but the birdie-fest better known as the Ray Fischer Amateur Championship has become the domain of the mid-amateur.
That point was underscored Sunday when 34-year-old champion Dustin Schwab hoisted a celebratory beer with defending champion Joe Weber and 2007 winner Garrett Jones behind the clubhouse at Janesville Riverside Golf Course. Weber is 37 and Jones is 36.
Schwab, a former Marquette University golfer, beat 18-year-old Cameron Huss, a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after the two had tied at 20-under 268 in regulation in the Wisconsin Public Links Association’s premier event.
Usually, it’s better to be long off the tee than long in the tooth, but experience matters at Janesville Riverside, a 6,500-yard course with tree-lined fairways, sharp doglegs and fast, sloping greens. Counting Schwab, the last five Fischer champs have been mid-ams who know when to throttle back, where to miss and how to take spin off their wedges.
“The younger kids might be able to hit it farther, but the experience of playing here going on almost 15 years helps,” Schwab said. “Knowing the golf course, knowing how to control the ball, I think that’s the biggest key. You have to be able to control your wedges going into those greens.”
Before Schwab birdied the first playoff hole to win – more on that later – the leaderboard was in a constant state of flux over the 36-hole finale Sunday.
Jones, 36, coming off a victory Thursday in the WSGA Match Play Championship, had a three-stroke lead at the start of the day but shot 37 on his back nine in the morning round and fell off the pace with a 72. Even par is good in a lot of tournaments, but it will get you lapped in the Fischer.
Tony Romo, 41, the Burlington native and CBS’ lead color commentator for its NFL games, fired a 64 in the morning round – his lowest-ever competitive round – and took the lead before Schwab played the final four holes in 4-under with an eagle and two birdies to fire a 65 and get in the clubhouse at 16-under 200. Romo was a shot back at 201.
Romo stumbled out of the gate in the final round, however, making a double-bogey on the par-4 second hole after hooking his drive into the trees, punching into a greenside bunker and blading the bunker shot 30 yards over the green. He followed with a bogey on the par-3 fourth hole and never threatened the lead after that, though he did play the final 15 holes in 5-under, shot a closing 70 and finished T-3.
“Making a double-bogey out here just kills you,” Romo said. “You get the momentum going and everything, and then from there I was fighting an uphill battle. Every putt was so huge from that point on, it felt like, and obviously you’re pressing a little bit.”
Jack Schultz, who won the Fischer back-to-back in 2017 and ’18, did his thing at Riverside, shooting 67-66 and moving up into a tie for third with Romo at 17-under 271. Over the last five years, Schultz is a cumulative 83-under at the Fischer and has finished 1-1-3-13-3. His scoring average over that span is an impressive 67.63.
“I’m OK with it,” he said of his finish. “I had some moments that were really good. There are some holes here that really fit me because I can hit the fade whenever I want. Also, I hit a couple (drives) pretty far out there and that always helps.”
As the day wore on, though, the Fischer evolved into a two-man battle between Schwab and Huss.
After a morning 65 left him three shots off the lead, Huss made a big move early in the final round with five consecutive birdies on Nos. 3-7. As he walked off the sixth green, new UW men’s golf coach Mike Wilson introduced himself to Huss. They’d spoken on the phone, but never met.
“I saw a couple pictures of him, so I recognized him,” Huss said. “He had the Badger gear on. It was just real brief. Shook his hand and he introduced himself. We’re all very excited to have him.”
After Huss’ run of birdies, he and Schwab pretty much traded places at the top or were tied the rest of the way.
Huss finished first, having put up a pair of matchings 65s – no bogeys and seven birdies in each. He birdied Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 in both rounds. Stellar.
Schwab, playing in the final foursome, bogeyed the 16th hole to fall one shot behind Huss but birdied the short par-4 17th to draw even again. He hit the green in regulation on the 415-yard 18th and, with Huss watching greenside, barely missed an 18-foot birdie attempt that would have been the winner. He hadn’t checked the live scoring on his phone all day.
“I actually didn’t look at a leaderboard,” he said. “I was kind of in a zone. I normally do look at leaderboards, but I decided I was just going to play as well as I could. Joe (Weber) gave me a little tip on that last putt, saying, ‘You should make this one.’ I knew where he was coming from.”
The playoff started, and ended, on the 491-yard par-5 10th hole. Huss’ drive leaked to the right and rolled to a stop directly behind a tree. He couldn’t advance the ball and had to chip out sideways. Then he hit a 7-iron from 180 yards to 30 feet below the pin – a long putt, but makeable.
Schwab, meanwhile, hit a perfect drive but his second shot was long and left of the green. He then hit a superb chip, which trickled slowly down the slope and finished six feet below the hole.
Huss barely missed his birdie attempt and Schwab then rolled his putt into the middle for the victory.
“Cameron caught a bad break,” Schwab said. “He hit a good drive. It just got right up against a tree.”
It was Schwab’s first victory as an amateur since the 2008 WSGA Match Play Championship, though he won a few minitour events before being reinstated.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “I won a few small events back in my professional days, but nothing big. It feels really good.”
Adam Miller of Nekoosa and Ethan Wilkins of Sussex finished in a tie for fifth at 16-under 272 and the group at 15-under included Jones, Nate Thomson of Greendale and Matt Tolan of Eau Claire, who finished second to Jones in the Match Play on Thursday.
Tolan opened with a 74 – hitting three drives out of bounds – but then shot 67-65-67, and his morning round Sunday included a hole-in-one with a pitching wedge on the 136-yard eighth hole.
“It’s been a heck of a week of golf, to say the least,” he said.
Schwab works at Madison-based Laser Link Golf and doesn’t have a big summer tournament schedule mapped out. He didn’t even sign up for qualifying for the State Amateur.
“I haven’t played in that in a bunch of years,” he said.
However, the Fischer victory does give him an exemption into the State Open in August.
“I guess I’ll have to play in that,” he said with a laugh.
The victory tasted pretty sweet. So, too, did the beer.
|1||Dustin Schwab Lodi, WI (p)||-20||F||-4||65||70||65||68||268|
|2||Cameron Huss Kenosha, WI||-20||F||-7||66||72||65||65||268|
|T3||Jack Schultz Whitefish Bay, WI||-17||F||-6||67||71||67||66||271|
|T3||Tony Romo Dallas, TX||-17||F||-2||70||67||64||70||271|
|T5||Adam Miller Nekoosa, WI||-16||F||-5||69||70||66||67||272|
|T5||Ethan Wilkins Sussex, WI||-16||F||-4||66||72||66||68||272|
|T7||Matt Tolan Eau Claire, WI||-15||F||-5||74||67||65||67||273|
|T7||Nate Thomson Greendale, WI||-15||F||-1||66||70||66||71||273|
|T7||Garrett Jones Fitchburg, WI||-15||F||-3||65||67||72||69||273|
|T10||Matthew Raab Hartland, WI||-14||F *||-7||64||78||67||65||274|
|T10||Joe Weber Onalaska, WI||-14||F||-1||67||69||67||71||274|
|12||Ricky Kuiper Racine, Wisconsin||-13||F||-1||68||71||65||71||275|
|T13||Sam Cianciola Nekoosa, WI||-11||F||-4||70||69||70||68||277|
|T13||Ryonen Faris Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin||-11||F *||-7||73||72||67||65||277|
|T15||Owen Butler Stoughton, WI||-10||F||-3||70||71||68||69||278|
|T15||R.J. Schwalbach Bolingbrook, IL||-10||F||E||69||72||65||72||278|
|T15||Dominic Kieffer Madison, WI||-10||F||-3||72||68||69||69||278|
|T18||Joe Forsting Edgerton, WI||-9||F *||-6||76||67||70||66||279|
|T18||-||Jakob Schroeckenthaler Cottage Grove, WI||-9||F||+1||69||71||66||73||279|
|T18||Christopher Colla Fond Du Lac, WI||-9||F *||-2||70||74||65||70||279|
|T18||Max Pasher Mequon, WI||-9||F||-5||68||70||74||67||279|
|T18||Adam Garski Wauwatosa, WI||-9||F||-1||68||70||70||71||279|
|T23||Cory Aune Lake Geneva, WI||-8||F||-3||69||72||70||69||280|
|T23||Steven Sanicki Menomonee Falls, WI||-8||F||-2||69||71||70||70||280|
|T23||Derrick Meier Waunakee, WI||-8||F||-2||70||70||70||70||280|
|T23||Maxwell Schmidtke Sheboygan, WI||-8||F||+3||63||74||68||75||280|
|T27||Matthew Davidson Mcfarland, WI||-7||F *||E||73||70||66||72||281|
|T27||Matt Behm Valders, WI||-7||F||+1||73||67||68||73||281|
|T27||Nathan Daugherty Lake Villa, IL||-7||F||+5||67||68||69||77||281|
|T30||-||Jed Baranczyk Green Bay, WI||-6||F||-4||69||73||72||68||282|
|T30||-||Tyler Cleaves Kaukauna, Wisconsin||-6||F *||-4||70||72||72||68||282|
|T30||Ben Resnick Rice Lake, WI||-6||F *||-4||71||72||71||68||282|
|T33||Mike D. Mueller Whitefish Bay, WI||-4||F||E||69||73||70||72||284|
|T33||Jacob Beckman Middleton, Wisconsin||-4||F||E||67||74||71||72||284|
|T33||Kevin Cahill Waukesha, WI||-4||F||-1||71||71||71||71||284|
|T33||Austin Gaby Verona, WI||-4||F *||-2||70||73||71||70||284|
|T33||Matthew Buckley Nekoosa, WI||-4||F *||-2||75||70||69||70||284|
|T33||Braeden Resnick Rice Lake, WI||-4||F||+4||70||67||71||76||284|
|T39||Kirk Leitzen Brodhead, WI||-3||F *||E||70||73||70||72||285|
|T39||Bruce Henning Brookfield, WI||-3||F||-1||68||73||73||71||285|
|T39||Derick Disch Greenfield, Wisconsin||-3||F *||+1||71||73||68||73||285|
|T39||Andrew Morrison Edgerton, WI||-3||F||+2||67||71||73||74||285|
|T39||Mark Noonan Vernon Hills, IL||-3||F *||+4||73||72||64||76||285|
|T39||Derek Hilmershausen Wausau, WI||-3||F *||-1||70||76||68||71||285|
|T45||Robert Gregorski Menasha, WI||-2||F *||+1||73||70||70||73||286|
|T45||Ryan Smith Eatonton, GA||-2||F *||-3||71||73||73||69||286|
|T45||Robert Hughes Wauwatosa, WI||-2||F *||-4||72||73||73||68||286|
|T48||Jason Jahnke Kewaskum, WI||-1||F *||+1||71||71||72||73||287|
|T48||Jason Jochem Cambridge, WI||-1||F||+1||68||74||72||73||287|
|T48||Danny Sanicki Menomonee Falls, WI||-1||F *||-3||71||74||73||69||287|
|T48||Brett Tautges Germantown, WI||-1||F *||+1||70||76||68||73||287|
|T52||John Blair Wauwatosa, WI||E||F *||-4||73||71||76||68||288|
|T52||Liam More O'Ferrall River Hills, WI||E||F *||E||77||68||71||72||288|
|T54||Michael Oellerich Brodhead, WI||+1||F *||+2||69||75||71||74||289|
|T54||Thomas Hemphill Madison, WI||+1||F *||E||70||75||72||72||289|
|T54||Christopher Dupuis Naperville, IL||+1||F *||+2||72||74||69||74||289|
|T54||Tom Halla Colgate, WI||+1||F *||E||76||70||71||72||289|
|T54||Noah Kirsch Lancaster, WI||+1||F *||-1||71||75||72||71||289|
|T59||Nick Corban Madison, WI||+2||F||+3||68||74||73||75||290|
|T59||Michael Masik Jr Mount Pleasant, WI||+2||F *||+3||71||74||70||75||290|
|T59||Nathan Schwarz Mooresville, NC||+2||F *||+4||71||74||69||76||290|
|T59||Travis Pronschinske Oconomowoc, WI||+2||F *||E||73||72||73||72||290|
|T59||Daniel Ozga Edgerton, WI||+2||F *||+3||71||75||69||75||290|
|64||Dylan Brown Reedsburg, WI||+3||F *||+1||72||72||74||73||291|
|T65||Tom Schoewe Sun Prairie, WI||+4||F||+5||69||73||73||77||292|
|T65||James Gilmore Middleton, WI||+4||F *||+2||72||72||74||74||292|
|T65||Austin Erickson Sparta, WI||+4||F *||-2||69||76||77||70||292|
|T68||Connor Brown Racine, WI||+5||F||+6||69||71||75||78||293|
|T68||Samuel Nielsen Fond Du Lac, WI||+5||F *||+5||72||72||72||77||293|
|T68||Ramiro Romo Burlington, WI||+5||F *||+4||75||70||72||76||293|
|T68||James DeBoer Onalaska, WI||+5||F *||E||70||76||75||72||293|
|72||Chip Summers Richfield, WI||+6||F||+3||67||75||77||75||294|
|T73||Andy Grinwald Watertown, WI||+8||F *||+1||72||74||77||73||296|
|T73||Zach Dybul Big Bend, Wisconsin||+8||F *||+3||75||71||75||75||296|
|75||Brock Hlinak Kaukauna, WI||+10||F *||+4||68||75||79||76||298|
|76||Joseph Immekus Greendale, WI||+18||F *||+11||70||76||77||83||306|