Austin Kendziorski - lead image US open qualifying

Austin Kendziorski follows his drive during U.S. Open qualifying on Wednesday at Wild Rock GC in Wisconsin Dells. Kendziorski, from Germantown, led all qualifiers with a 2-under 70.

WISCONSIN DELLS — Remember the famous storm scene in “Caddyshack?” This was it, only a lot colder. The rain came down in icy sheets Wednesday, pelting exposed skin. Rain suits and umbrellas offered minimal relief from the elements. Frozen fingers stopped working. Even the geese hunkered down.

Monsoon rains met Old Man Winter in a wind tunnel.

If the event hadn’t been an 18-hole local qualifier for the U.S. Open, nobody in his right mind would have been playing golf at Wild Rock Golf Club. Amazingly, the course was playable, so the United States Golf Association, which has little wiggle room to reschedule these qualifiers, said play on.

It’s a good thing Wild Rock drains exceptionally well. Or maybe a not-so-good thing.

“Most miserably difficult day of tournament golf I’ve ever experienced,” professional David Spengler, a former Northern Iowa golfer who now calls Verona home, tweeted. The temperature never climbed out of the low 40s and a brutal wind-driven rain made the five-hour slog nearly unbearable.

All of which makes amateur Austin Kendziorski’s 2-under 70 an early candidate for round of the year in Wisconsin. His score was a whopping 12 shots better than the field average of 81.94.

“Shooting under par in these conditions might be one of the best rounds I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Bill Linneman, the longtime director of rules and competitions for the Wisconsin State Golf Association, which conducted the qualifier.

Blake Jens, a 25-year-old professional from Madison, was runner-up with a 73, and Mike Mueller, an amateur from Whitefish Bay, shot a 74. No one else broke 75.

Seventy-two players started and 63 finished, the other nine succumbing to the conditions and withdrawing, most of them after nine holes.

At stake were four spots in 36-hole sectional qualifying. In addition to Kendziorski, Jens and Mueller, amateur Ryonen Faris of Fond du Lac advanced, earning the fourth and final spot in a playoff with Thomas Leonard Campbell, a professional from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Both shots 75s.

Faris, a Ripon native, is a former Marian University golfer. He shot a 42 on the front nine but bounced back with a 33 on the back, including the only eagle of the day on the par-5 14th. He played Nos. 10-14 in 5-under.

Campbell is the first alternate and Sam Osborne, a pro from Lake Geneva, earned the second alternate spot after a playoff among four players who shot 76; two others shot 76 but declined to participate in the playoff.

Kendziorski, a senior on Marquette University’s golf team, wore mittens between shots and credited his caddie for keeping his equipment dry. He made six birdies and four bogeys.

“It’s up there with the worst,” he said of the conditions. “I played in a couple college events where it was snowing but today was up there, for sure. I think more than anything, it was embracing it and just trying to make as many pars as you could. There were so many times when you could kind of lose track of things, but you just remind yourself to keep making pars.”

Kendziorski’s round came at a good time, with the Big East champion Golden Eagles leaving Friday for the NCAA Division I Louisville Regional.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m really, really excited for it and I think all our guys are peaking at the right time.”

Kendziorski’s teammate, sophomore Hunter Eichhorn, was one of the players who shot 76 and played off unsuccessfully for the second alternate.

Jens, 25, teed off in the first threesome at 8 a.m. and had to wait five hours after posting his 73 for all the scores to come in. He made four birdies, a bogey and two double-bogeys.

“It was a grind,” he said. “You usually get one of three – wind, rain or cold. Today, we got all three. I just tried to keep it in play and rely on my short game.”

Jens helped Middleton High School win the 2011 WIAA Division 1 title and attended the University of Wisconsin, but did not play college golf. He turned pro three years ago but has battled back and hip problems, residuals from years of playing hockey.

He had surgery on both hips in 2018 and said his swing has changed considerably.

“It’s been trial and error,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure out what works.”

Mueller has played in two USGA championships, the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball with partner Jack Schultz, and the U.S. Mid-Amateur. A civil engineer, he enters only a handful of tournaments each year.

“I was trying not to shoot 90,” he said with a laugh. “I got lucky on a few places I ended up; they were easy up-and-downs. I made a few putts. I missed a couple short ones that I thought were going to cost me but I ended up making a few 10-footers that kept me in it.”

Sectional qualifying will be held at 12 sites beginning May 20. Ten of the 12 sectionals are scheduled for June 3.


Pos
Player
Thru
Total
Strokes
 
QUALIFIERS (4)
1Austin Kendziorski (a)  Germantown, WIF-270 
2Blake Jens (p)  Madison, WIF+173 
3Mike Mueller (a)  Whitefish Bay, WIF+274 
T4Ryonen Faris (a)  Fond Du Lac, WIF+375 
ALTERNATES - IN ORDER (2)
T4Thomas Leonard Campbell (p)  Minnetonka, MNF+375 
T6Sam Osborne (p)  Lake Geneva, WIF+476 
DID NOT QUALIFY
T6Bennett Cotten (a)  Winnetka, ILF+476 
T6John Langhoff (p)  Pewaukee, WIF+476 
T6Hunter Eichhorn (a)  Carney, MIF+476 
T6Charlie Delsman (p)  Hartland, WIF+476 
T6Matt Tolan (a)  Eau Claire, WIF+476 
12Joe Leonard (p)  Cambridge, WIF+577 
T13Jay Nelson (p)  Fontana, WIF+678 
T13John (Jack) Blair (a)  Wauwatosa, WIF+678 
T15Chris James (a)  Cedar Rapids, IAF+779 
T15John Gullberg (p)  Franksville, WIF+779 
T15Evan Wartgow (p)  Fort Atkinson, WIF+779 
T15Peter Webb (p)  Madison, WIF+779 
T15Mark Voeller (p)  Whitewater, WIF+779 
T15Maxwell Hosking (p)  Tucson, AZF+779 
T15Kevin Van Rossum (a)  Hartland, WIF+779 
T15John Schultz (a)  Whitefish Bay, WIF+779 
T15Mick Smith (p)  AustraliaF+779 
T15Kyle Scanlon (p)  Circle Pines, MNF+779 
T25Kelly Berger (p)  Mosinee, WIF+880 
T25Jordan Ray (p)  Deforest, WIF+880 
T25Andrew Knoll (a)  New Berlin, WIF+880 
T25Joe Weber (a)  Onalaska, WIF+880 
T29Burke Spensky (a)  Boise, IDF+981 
T29Michael Higgins (p)  Madison, WIF+981 
T29Chad Sandee (p)  Plymouth, WIF+981 
T29Jakob Garstecki (a)  Germantown, WIF+981 
33Garrett Loomis (p)  River Falls, WIF+1082 
T34Cory Aune (a)  Lake Geneva, WIF+1183 
T34Matt McIntosh (a)  Hartland, WIF+1183 
T34David Houserman (a)  Washington Township, OHF+1183 
T34Dave Zeisse (p)  Milwaukee, WIF+1183 
T34Brett McCarville (a)  Sidney, NEF+1183 
T34Isaac Prefontaine (a)  Green Bay, WIF+1183 
T34Nicholas Bauer (a)  Oshkosh, WIF+1183 
T34George Kneiser (a)  Oconomowoc, WIF+1183 
T42Tyler Siech (p)  Plymouth, WIF+1284 
T42David Spengler (p)  Verona, WIF+1284 
T42Jeremy Wesemann (a)  Sussex, WIF+1284 
T42Jordan Hahn (a)  Spring Grove, ILF+1284 
T42Tim McCormick (p)  Madison, WIF+1284 
T47Drew Pershing (a)  Washington, ILF+1385 
T47Zachary Nash (a)  Waterford, WIF+1385 
T47Mark Laken (a)  Kenosha, WIF+1385 
T47Scott Mowatt (p)  Windsor, WIF+1385 
T47James Gunsalus (a)  Brookfield, WIF+1385 
52Jay Holm (p)  Marshfield, WIF+1486 
T53Brandon Larson (a)  Mount Horeb, WIF+1587 
T53Zach Place (a)  Roselle, ILF+1587 
T53Nathan Daugherty (a)  Lake Villa, ILF+1587 
T53Benjamin Resnick (a)  Rice Lake, WIF+1587 
T53Ryan Franklin (p)  Wales, WIF+1587 
T53Tyler Leach (a)  Spring Valley, WIF+1587 
T59Mason Kent (a)  Fort Atkinson, WIF+1688 
T59Keenan Quick (a)  Waukesha, WIF+1688 
T59Kyle McClone (p)  Winter Garden, FLF+1688 
T62Adam Kosa (a)  Mount Horeb, WIF+2092 
T62Mitch Scott (a)  Neenah, WIF+2092 
DID NOT FINISH
WDKaylor Steger (p)  Mount Pleasant, WI+6   
WDJacob Michel (a)  Lodi, WI+6   
WDRyan Helminen (p)  Harrison, WI+8   
WDZach Burry (p)  Appleton, WI+9   
WDEric Brito (p)  Sheboygan, WI+12   
WDMarty Flores (a)  Waukesha, WI+14   
WDAndrew Steinhofer (p)  Madison, WI    
WDFrederick Welter (a)  Rayne, LA    
NCTyler Raatz (a)  Cecil, WI+16   

garyd@killarneygolfmedia.com

Gary has covered golf in Wisconsin since 1980 and is a multiple award winner in the GWAA writing contest. He was inducted into the WSGA Hall of Fame in 2017 and joined Wisconsin.Golf in 2018 after a distinguished career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.