'21 Sr Open Mario Tiziani

Mario Tiziani hits a drive during the final round of the State Senior Open on Wednesday.

Everyone around Mario Tiziani seemed to have a good golf story that included special memories of the tight, twisting layout at Blackhawk Country Club in Madison.

On Wednesday, in his hometown, Tiziani authored one of his own as he rallied to win the Wisconsin State Senior Open Championship after a wild final round.

Golfers who stood the test of time

The nine golfers who have won the Wisconsin State Open and the Wisconsin State Senior Open championships during their career. The State Senior Open debuted in 1985.
Player State Open State Senior Open
Bob Brue, Milwaukee 1958, '59, '63, 70, '72, 1985
Tom Puls, Fond du Lac 1960 1993, '95
Steve Bull, Milwaukee 1964, '67 1996
a-Mark Bemowski, Racine 1974 2010, '11, '12, '13
Larry Tiziani, Madison 1978 1999
Mike Muranyi, Monroe 1983 2003
Eddie Terasa, Madison 1985, '95, 2010 2017
Jim Schuman, Madison 1996, '99 2015, '18, '19
Mario Tiziani, Madison 2002 2021

Tiziani's father, Dennis, finished fourth there at the 1972 Wisconsin State Open the year Milwaukee's Bob Brue won the last of his record-tying five championships. Mario's playing partner in the final round, Brookfield native Tim Cantwell, won the Wisconsin State Amateur there in 1993.

Mario Tiziani remembers surviving the third round of the 1989 Madison City Tournament with a 73 at Blackhawk. But what made that year special was closing out the first of his three Madison City titles in the four-courses-in-four-days format on his home course at Cherokee CC, holding off Jerry Kelly (yes, that Jerry Kelly) in the final round to win by two shots.

What happened on the back nine Wednesday moves Tiziani's tale to the top of the list.

Tiziani went one way, birdieing five holes in a row and six of seven playing in the third-to-last group before finishing with a bogey at No. 18. The former University of Wisconsin golfer shot a 5-under-par 31 on the back nine, a 4-under 68 on the final day and finished 36 holes of regulation at 3-under 141.

First-round leader Kurt Mantyla went the other way, playing his final three holes in 5-over to shoot 1-over 73 and fall into a tie with Tiziani at 141. The Wauwatosa teaching professional three-putted the final three greens at Blackhawk CC. The one at No. 17 came after he pulled his second shot, a "mud ball" struck with a 7-iron, out-of-bounds that led to a triple-bogey and reduced his lead from four shots to one heading to the par-3 18th, where he covered the flag with a pitching wedge only to have it come to rest above the hole.

Somehow, Mantyla gathered himself after the disappointment down the stretch and battled Tiziani through a five-hole playoff to decide a champion. After matching a birdie and three pars on Nos. 13, 16, 17 and 18, respectively, the 51-year-old Tiziani birdied No. 13 the second time through to outlast Mantyla for the title.

"It's incredibly disappointing to end that way," Mantyla said in a telephone interview. "How I felt I played those last three holes, other than a couple of sketchy putts, it looks worse on (live scoring) than it was. That mud ball, I had a feeling it could hook and I felt I was playing it smart and I thought the right thing to do was to play it out there low and out there to the right and let it come down the hill. As soon as it came off the face and I looked up and saw it go left, it was a shock."

Tiziani, the 2002 Wisconsin State Open champion, certainly didn't expect to be in position to become just the eighth golfer to win both the State Open and the State Senior Open in his career. Tiziani, who now lives in Shorewood, Minn., also won the Minnesota State Senior Open in June and launching his return to competitive golf. 

"We were really punch-for-punch there and then he hit that wayward on the last playoff hole," Tiziani said of Mantyla, who hit his third shot in the bunker and had a 7-footer for par before Tiziani rolled in his 8-footer for birdie to end it. "That was an opening and I just wanted to take care of it. And those are all personal things for me, how I handle emotions and how I handle pressure.

"That's why I started playing again, self-motivation and (personal) goals. I just want to perform under pressure and do good things when it matters. I lived my career for so long as the guy that was on the cut line and didn't contend all that much. When I did, it was decent. I just didn't do it all that much."

Wednesday was vintage Tiziani.

With a sponsor's exemption to next week's Sanford International on the PGA Tour Champions (he'll tee it up in the same field as Kelly and brother-in-law Steve Stricker), he was looking for positive signs on Blackhawk's slippery greens and finally found it near the turn Wednesday. He made a lengthy par putt at No. 9, missed a birdie opportunity at No. 10 and then rattled off the first of his five straight birdies on No. 11, a 274-yard par-4 nestled between the trees where he drove it just right of the green, bumped a sand wedge into the side of the green and made the 15-footer for birdie.

After birdies on the back-to-back par-5s at Nos. 12 and 13, Tiziani made a 15-footer at No. 14 and a 12-footer at No. 15 to get to 4-under for the day. He made a 10-footer for his last birdie at No. 17 before three-putting for bogey at No. 18 and, for a short time, thinking his day was done.

"It was disappointing to end that way," Tiziani said. "I just wanted to put up a fight for myself and you never know. ... I just said 'Well, try to get it a couple under for the tournament and then I'll look at the leaderboard and see where I'm at.' I did, I birdied 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and I looked and he had just gotten to 8-under.

"(After) he tripled (No.) 17, I'm like 'We gotta go watch 18.' He hit it in the middle of the green and I knew you couldn't stop the (downhill) putt; he's either going to make it or he's going to hit it off the green. I went and got my clubs and said 'Well, you've got a lifeline.' I felt bad for him. It's a crazy game. It's just a crazy game."

Defending champion Michael Crowley of Fox Point can attest to that.

The head professional at Morningstar Golfers Club in Waukesha bogeyed three of his first four holes Wednesday to fall out of contention only to play his final 12 holes in 3-under, rally for an even-par 72 and finish alone in third at 2-under 142. Richfield amateur Chip Summers, who played with Mantyla and Crowley in the final group, shot 73 for a 1-under 143 total to edge Minnesota's JT Johnson (71-144) for low-amateur honors.

"Kurt was playing so well, it didn’t seem like anybody was going to be able to catch him," Crowley wrote in a text to Wisconsin.Golf. "And when he birdied (No.) 13, I thought 'That should do it.' ... It was really tough to see that happen to Kurt as he had played so well all day (and) I was really rooting for him."

For his part, Mantyla, who won the WPGA Senior Professional Championship earlier this summer and will tee it up next week in the Wisconsin PGA section championship, took this setback with a touch of humor.

"I had a great time and both days the group of guys I had were great guys; I really enjoyed it," Mantyla said. "It's not the end of the world. ... I'll be fine (Thursday) when I go back to work fixing slices."

Playoff hole12345
Course hole1316171813
Mario Tiziani (p)43434
Kurt Mantyla43435
1Mario Tiziani (p)  Shorewood, MN (p)-3F-47368141 
2Kurt Mantyla (p)  Wauwatosa, WI-3F+16873141 
3Michael Crowley (p)  Fox Point, WI-2FE7072142 
4Jason Summers  Richfield, WI-1F+17073143 
T5JT Johnson  Eden Prairie, MNEF-17371144 
T5Jim Schuman (p)  Scottsdale, AZEFE7272144 
7Timothy Cantwell (p)  Palm Beach Gardens, FL+1FE7372145 
8Kevin Cahill  Waukesha, WI+2F+17373146 
T9Steve Krause (a.r.)  Waterford, WI+3F-17671147 
T9John Kestly  Pewaukee, WI+3F+37275147 
11Robert Gregorski  Menasha, WI+4F+47276148 
T12Jason Zahradka  New Richmond, WI+5F-27970149 
T12Eddie Terasa (p)  Waukesha, WI+5F+27574149 
T12Todd Schaap  Kenosha, WI+5F+27574149 
T12Bruce Henning  Brookfield, WI+5F+27574149 
T12Derek Schnarr (p)  Middleton, WI+5F+37475149 
T12Marshall Gavre (p)  Fairfield, IA+5F+47376149 
T12Rocky Sperka  New Berlin, WI+5F+77079149 
T19Jim Doing  Verona, WI+6F+37575150 
T19Todd Westrich  DePere, WI+6F+37575150 
T21Charlie Brown (p)  Sturtevant, WI+7F+57477151 
T21Brian Brugger  Franklin, WI+7F+87180151 
T23Tom Chambers  Union Grove, WI+8F+17973152 
T23Brook Schmitt (p)  Oregon, WI+8F+37775152 
T23Mark Voeller (p)  Pewaukee, WI+8F+47676152 
T26Matthew Stottern (p)  Fish Creek, WI+9F *+27974153 
T26John Freeman (p)  Muskego, WI+9F+57677153 
T26Dave Spengler (p)  Sobieski, WI+9F+77479153 
T29Jeff Fox  Greenville, WI+10F+57777154 
T29Chad Behrends (p)  Pewaukee, WI+10F+47876154 
31Dave Ullenberg  Milwaukee, WI+11F *E8372155 
T32Brian Liddy  Green Bay, WI+12F+57977156 
T32Bill Crinzi  Milwaukee, WI+12F+77779156 
T34John Cyboran (p)  Wisconsin Rapids, WI+13F+67978157 
T34Pat Gorman (p)  Madison, WI+13F *+58077157 
T34Mike Aumann  Blue Mounds, WI+13F+77879157 
T34PJ Murphy  Middleton, WI+13F *+28374157 
T34Brian Buss  Eau Claire, WI+13F+97681157 
T34Ramiro Romo  Waterford, WI+13F+97681157 
T34Jason Samuelian (p)  Franklin, WI+13F+107582157 
T41Scott Lunde (p)  Manhattan, IL+14F+77979158 
T41Mitchell Bowers  Mineral Point, WI+14F+77979158 
T41Kevin Schoppe (p)  Kronenwetter, WI+14F *+48276158 
T41Mark Dalebroux  Madison, WI+14F+97781158 
T41James Walkley Jr  Onalaska, WI+14F+117583158 
T41Timothy Torkelson  Delavan, WI+14F+117583158 
T47Paul Zarek  Burlington, WI+15F *+78079159 
T47John Uekert  West Bend, WI+15F *+78079159 
T47Dick Regenberg  Madison, WI+15F *+68178159 
T47Jeff Lister  Greendale, WI+15F+97881159 
T51Bob Pyle  Green Bay, WI+16F+97981160 
T51Mike Smith  Pewaukee, WI+16F *+78179160 
T51Mike Murphy  Minocqua, WI+16F *+78179160 
T51Todd Cook  Beaver Dam, WI+16F *+78179160 
T55Norm Schultz  Menomonee Falls, WI+17F+107982161 
T55Jim Rollefson  Franklin, WI+17F+117883161 
T55Jamie Young  Kenosha, WI+17F *+78279161 
T55Lu Yang (p)  Milwaukee, WI+17F *+78279161 
T55Simon Clough (p)  Burlington, WI+17F *+78279161 
T55Jim McNicoll  Green Bay, WI+17F+127784161 
T55Peter Krause (p)  Milwaukee, WI+17F *+68378161 
T62John Golden  Verona, WI+18F *+98181162 
T62Scott Jens  Madison, WI+18F *+98181162 
T62Chuck Garbedian  Waukesha, WI+18F+127884162 
T62Steve Schreck  New Berlin, WI+18F *+88280162 
T62Bill Schneider  Appleton, WI+18F *+78379162 
67Joe Stadler (p)  Wauwatosa, WI+19F *+78479163 
T68Ernest Kocs (p)  McFarland, WI+20F+147886164 
T68Clark Eichstedt (p)  Keeaskum, WI+20F *+78579164 
70Steve Etrheim  Plover, WI+21F *+138085165 
T71John Blau (p)  Elm Grove, WI+22F *+128284166 
T71Timothy Kramer  Suamico, WI+22F *+118383166 
T71Bruce Hansen  Racine, WI+22F *+88680166 
74Mike ONeil  Muskego, WI+23F *+88780167 
T75Paul Johnson  Kenosha, WI+24F+177989168 
T75Mark Krause (p)  Franklin, WI+24F *+138385168 
T75Peter Weber  Cedarburg, WI+24F *+88880168 
78Sterling Haumont (p)  Williams Bay, WI+25F *+128584169 
79Daniel Mueller  Kenosha, WI+26F *+158387170 
80Mike Lazzeroni  Delavan, WI+27F *+138685171 
T81Jon Palmen  Kenosha, WI+29F *+178489173 
T81Jeffrey Campbell (p)  Sturgeon Bay, WI+29F *+148786173 
83Scott Price (p)  Milwaukee, WI+30F *+148886174 
84Keith Luedtke  South Milwaukee, WI+31F *+178689175 
85David Andrews (p)  Waukesha, WI+33F *+149186177 
T86John McNeil  Hartland, WI+34F *+178989178 
T86Joel Weitz (p)  Madison, WI+34F *+169088178 
88Eric Popovich (p)  Beaver Dam, WI+36F *+189090180 
89Jim Massey  Menominee, MI+38F *+228894182 
90Terry Schilz  Cambridge, WI+47F *+279299191 
WDJohn Cavaiani  Dousman, WI+13  85 85 
WDJim Gaugert (p)  Lake Geneva, WI+1813 *+68458142 
WDTom Potter  DeForest, WI+24  96 96 
WDTracey Ahlborn  Minocqua, WI       
WDMartin Buehler  Arbor Vitae, WI       
WDDoug Cheever (p)  Schofield, WI       
WDGlenn Dahl  Madison, WI       
WDPat Griffin  Madison, WI       
WDBrian Hale  Sherwood, WI       
WDJon Oaks  Wales, WI       
WDMarcus Smith  Janesville, WI       
WDMichael Wemmert  West Bend, WI       
WDJohn Wittkowske  Shorewood, WI       
NSRob Remitz (p)  Muskego, WI+9  81 81 
NSDidier Ibar  New Berlin, WI+26  98 98 
NSTim Grogan (p)  Milwaukee, WI       

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