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.
|1||Austin Kendziorski (a) Germantown, WI||F||-2||70|
|2||Blake Jens (p) Madison, WI||F||+1||73|
|3||Mike Mueller (a) Whitefish Bay, WI||F||+2||74|
|T4||Ryonen Faris (a) Fond Du Lac, WI||F||+3||75|
|ALTERNATES - IN ORDER (2)|
|T4||Thomas Leonard Campbell (p) Minnetonka, MN||F||+3||75|
|T6||Sam Osborne (p) Lake Geneva, WI||F||+4||76|
|DID NOT QUALIFY|
|T6||Bennett Cotten (a) Winnetka, IL||F||+4||76|
|T6||John Langhoff (p) Pewaukee, WI||F||+4||76|
|T6||Hunter Eichhorn (a) Carney, MI||F||+4||76|
|T6||Charlie Delsman (p) Hartland, WI||F||+4||76|
|T6||Matt Tolan (a) Eau Claire, WI||F||+4||76|
|12||Joe Leonard (p) Cambridge, WI||F||+5||77|
|T13||Jay Nelson (p) Fontana, WI||F||+6||78|
|T13||John (Jack) Blair (a) Wauwatosa, WI||F||+6||78|
|T15||Chris James (a) Cedar Rapids, IA||F||+7||79|
|T15||John Gullberg (p) Franksville, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||Evan Wartgow (p) Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||Peter Webb (p) Madison, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||Mark Voeller (p) Whitewater, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||Maxwell Hosking (p) Tucson, AZ||F||+7||79|
|T15||Kevin Van Rossum (a) Hartland, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||John Schultz (a) Whitefish Bay, WI||F||+7||79|
|T15||Mick Smith (p) Australia||F||+7||79|
|T15||Kyle Scanlon (p) Circle Pines, MN||F||+7||79|
|T25||Kelly Berger (p) Mosinee, WI||F||+8||80|
|T25||Jordan Ray (p) Deforest, WI||F||+8||80|
|T25||Andrew Knoll (a) New Berlin, WI||F||+8||80|
|T25||Joe Weber (a) Onalaska, WI||F||+8||80|
|T29||Burke Spensky (a) Boise, ID||F||+9||81|
|T29||Michael Higgins (p) Madison, WI||F||+9||81|
|T29||Chad Sandee (p) Plymouth, WI||F||+9||81|
|T29||Jakob Garstecki (a) Germantown, WI||F||+9||81|
|33||Garrett Loomis (p) River Falls, WI||F||+10||82|
|T34||Cory Aune (a) Lake Geneva, WI||F||+11||83|
|T34||Matt McIntosh (a) Hartland, WI||F||+11||83|
|T34||David Houserman (a) Washington Township, OH||F||+11||83|
|T34||Dave Zeisse (p) Milwaukee, WI||F||+11||83|
|T34||Brett McCarville (a) Sidney, NE||F||+11||83|
|T34||Isaac Prefontaine (a) Green Bay, WI||F||+11||83|
|T34||Nicholas Bauer (a) Oshkosh, WI||F||+11||83|
|T34||George Kneiser (a) Oconomowoc, WI||F||+11||83|
|T42||Tyler Siech (p) Plymouth, WI||F||+12||84|
|T42||David Spengler (p) Verona, WI||F||+12||84|
|T42||Jeremy Wesemann (a) Sussex, WI||F||+12||84|
|T42||Jordan Hahn (a) Spring Grove, IL||F||+12||84|
|T42||Tim McCormick (p) Madison, WI||F||+12||84|
|T47||Drew Pershing (a) Washington, IL||F||+13||85|
|T47||Zachary Nash (a) Waterford, WI||F||+13||85|
|T47||Mark Laken (a) Kenosha, WI||F||+13||85|
|T47||Scott Mowatt (p) Windsor, WI||F||+13||85|
|T47||James Gunsalus (a) Brookfield, WI||F||+13||85|
|52||Jay Holm (p) Marshfield, WI||F||+14||86|
|T53||Brandon Larson (a) Mount Horeb, WI||F||+15||87|
|T53||Zach Place (a) Roselle, IL||F||+15||87|
|T53||Nathan Daugherty (a) Lake Villa, IL||F||+15||87|
|T53||Benjamin Resnick (a) Rice Lake, WI||F||+15||87|
|T53||Ryan Franklin (p) Wales, WI||F||+15||87|
|T53||Tyler Leach (a) Spring Valley, WI||F||+15||87|
|T59||Mason Kent (a) Fort Atkinson, WI||F||+16||88|
|T59||Keenan Quick (a) Waukesha, WI||F||+16||88|
|T59||Kyle McClone (p) Winter Garden, FL||F||+16||88|
|T62||Adam Kosa (a) Mount Horeb, WI||F||+20||92|
|T62||Mitch Scott (a) Neenah, WI||F||+20||92|
|DID NOT FINISH|
|WD||Kaylor Steger (p) Mount Pleasant, WI||+6|
|WD||Jacob Michel (a) Lodi, WI||+6|
|WD||Ryan Helminen (p) Harrison, WI||+8|
|WD||Zach Burry (p) Appleton, WI||+9|
|WD||Eric Brito (p) Sheboygan, WI||+12|
|WD||Marty Flores (a) Waukesha, WI||+14|
|WD||Andrew Steinhofer (p) Madison, WI|
|WD||Frederick Welter (a) Rayne, LA|
|NC||Tyler Raatz (a) Cecil, WI||+16|| |