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
|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."
|Mario Tiziani (p)||4||3||4||3||4|
|1||Mario Tiziani (p) Shorewood, MN (p)||-3||F||-4||73||68||141|
|2||Kurt Mantyla (p) Wauwatosa, WI||-3||F||+1||68||73||141|
|3||Michael Crowley (p) Fox Point, WI||-2||F||E||70||72||142|
|4||Jason Summers Richfield, WI||-1||F||+1||70||73||143|
|T5||JT Johnson Eden Prairie, MN||E||F||-1||73||71||144|
|T5||Jim Schuman (p) Scottsdale, AZ||E||F||E||72||72||144|
|7||Timothy Cantwell (p) Palm Beach Gardens, FL||+1||F||E||73||72||145|
|8||Kevin Cahill Waukesha, WI||+2||F||+1||73||73||146|
|T9||Steve Krause (a.r.) Waterford, WI||+3||F||-1||76||71||147|
|T9||John Kestly Pewaukee, WI||+3||F||+3||72||75||147|
|11||Robert Gregorski Menasha, WI||+4||F||+4||72||76||148|
|T12||Jason Zahradka New Richmond, WI||+5||F||-2||79||70||149|
|T12||Eddie Terasa (p) Waukesha, WI||+5||F||+2||75||74||149|
|T12||Todd Schaap Kenosha, WI||+5||F||+2||75||74||149|
|T12||Bruce Henning Brookfield, WI||+5||F||+2||75||74||149|
|T12||Derek Schnarr (p) Middleton, WI||+5||F||+3||74||75||149|
|T12||Marshall Gavre (p) Fairfield, IA||+5||F||+4||73||76||149|
|T12||Rocky Sperka New Berlin, WI||+5||F||+7||70||79||149|
|T19||Jim Doing Verona, WI||+6||F||+3||75||75||150|
|T19||Todd Westrich DePere, WI||+6||F||+3||75||75||150|
|T21||Charlie Brown (p) Sturtevant, WI||+7||F||+5||74||77||151|
|T21||Brian Brugger Franklin, WI||+7||F||+8||71||80||151|
|T23||Tom Chambers Union Grove, WI||+8||F||+1||79||73||152|
|T23||Brook Schmitt (p) Oregon, WI||+8||F||+3||77||75||152|
|T23||Mark Voeller (p) Pewaukee, WI||+8||F||+4||76||76||152|
|T26||Matthew Stottern (p) Fish Creek, WI||+9||F *||+2||79||74||153|
|T26||John Freeman (p) Muskego, WI||+9||F||+5||76||77||153|
|T26||Dave Spengler (p) Sobieski, WI||+9||F||+7||74||79||153|
|T29||Jeff Fox Greenville, WI||+10||F||+5||77||77||154|
|T29||Chad Behrends (p) Pewaukee, WI||+10||F||+4||78||76||154|
|31||Dave Ullenberg Milwaukee, WI||+11||F *||E||83||72||155|
|T32||Brian Liddy Green Bay, WI||+12||F||+5||79||77||156|
|T32||Bill Crinzi Milwaukee, WI||+12||F||+7||77||79||156|
|T34||John Cyboran (p) Wisconsin Rapids, WI||+13||F||+6||79||78||157|
|T34||Pat Gorman (p) Madison, WI||+13||F *||+5||80||77||157|
|T34||Mike Aumann Blue Mounds, WI||+13||F||+7||78||79||157|
|T34||PJ Murphy Middleton, WI||+13||F *||+2||83||74||157|
|T34||Brian Buss Eau Claire, WI||+13||F||+9||76||81||157|
|T34||Ramiro Romo Waterford, WI||+13||F||+9||76||81||157|
|T34||Jason Samuelian (p) Franklin, WI||+13||F||+10||75||82||157|
|T41||Scott Lunde (p) Manhattan, IL||+14||F||+7||79||79||158|
|T41||Mitchell Bowers Mineral Point, WI||+14||F||+7||79||79||158|
|T41||Kevin Schoppe (p) Kronenwetter, WI||+14||F *||+4||82||76||158|
|T41||Mark Dalebroux Madison, WI||+14||F||+9||77||81||158|
|T41||James Walkley Jr Onalaska, WI||+14||F||+11||75||83||158|
|T41||Timothy Torkelson Delavan, WI||+14||F||+11||75||83||158|
|T47||Paul Zarek Burlington, WI||+15||F *||+7||80||79||159|
|T47||John Uekert West Bend, WI||+15||F *||+7||80||79||159|
|T47||Dick Regenberg Madison, WI||+15||F *||+6||81||78||159|
|T47||Jeff Lister Greendale, WI||+15||F||+9||78||81||159|
|T51||Bob Pyle Green Bay, WI||+16||F||+9||79||81||160|
|T51||Mike Smith Pewaukee, WI||+16||F *||+7||81||79||160|
|T51||Mike Murphy Minocqua, WI||+16||F *||+7||81||79||160|
|T51||Todd Cook Beaver Dam, WI||+16||F *||+7||81||79||160|
|T55||Norm Schultz Menomonee Falls, WI||+17||F||+10||79||82||161|
|T55||Jim Rollefson Franklin, WI||+17||F||+11||78||83||161|
|T55||Jamie Young Kenosha, WI||+17||F *||+7||82||79||161|
|T55||Lu Yang (p) Milwaukee, WI||+17||F *||+7||82||79||161|
|T55||Simon Clough (p) Burlington, WI||+17||F *||+7||82||79||161|
|T55||Jim McNicoll Green Bay, WI||+17||F||+12||77||84||161|
|T55||Peter Krause (p) Milwaukee, WI||+17||F *||+6||83||78||161|
|T62||John Golden Verona, WI||+18||F *||+9||81||81||162|
|T62||Scott Jens Madison, WI||+18||F *||+9||81||81||162|
|T62||Chuck Garbedian Waukesha, WI||+18||F||+12||78||84||162|
|T62||Steve Schreck New Berlin, WI||+18||F *||+8||82||80||162|
|T62||Bill Schneider Appleton, WI||+18||F *||+7||83||79||162|
|67||Joe Stadler (p) Wauwatosa, WI||+19||F *||+7||84||79||163|
|T68||Ernest Kocs (p) McFarland, WI||+20||F||+14||78||86||164|
|T68||Clark Eichstedt (p) Keeaskum, WI||+20||F *||+7||85||79||164|
|70||Steve Etrheim Plover, WI||+21||F *||+13||80||85||165|
|T71||John Blau (p) Elm Grove, WI||+22||F *||+12||82||84||166|
|T71||Timothy Kramer Suamico, WI||+22||F *||+11||83||83||166|
|T71||Bruce Hansen Racine, WI||+22||F *||+8||86||80||166|
|74||Mike ONeil Muskego, WI||+23||F *||+8||87||80||167|
|T75||Paul Johnson Kenosha, WI||+24||F||+17||79||89||168|
|T75||Mark Krause (p) Franklin, WI||+24||F *||+13||83||85||168|
|T75||Peter Weber Cedarburg, WI||+24||F *||+8||88||80||168|
|78||Sterling Haumont (p) Williams Bay, WI||+25||F *||+12||85||84||169|
|79||Daniel Mueller Kenosha, WI||+26||F *||+15||83||87||170|
|80||Mike Lazzeroni Delavan, WI||+27||F *||+13||86||85||171|
|T81||Jon Palmen Kenosha, WI||+29||F *||+17||84||89||173|
|T81||Jeffrey Campbell (p) Sturgeon Bay, WI||+29||F *||+14||87||86||173|
|83||Scott Price (p) Milwaukee, WI||+30||F *||+14||88||86||174|
|84||Keith Luedtke South Milwaukee, WI||+31||F *||+17||86||89||175|
|85||David Andrews (p) Waukesha, WI||+33||F *||+14||91||86||177|
|T86||John McNeil Hartland, WI||+34||F *||+17||89||89||178|
|T86||Joel Weitz (p) Madison, WI||+34||F *||+16||90||88||178|
|88||Eric Popovich (p) Beaver Dam, WI||+36||F *||+18||90||90||180|
|89||Jim Massey Menominee, MI||+38||F *||+22||88||94||182|
|90||Terry Schilz Cambridge, WI||+47||F *||+27||92||99||191|
|DID NOT FINISH|
|WD||John Cavaiani Dousman, WI||+13||85||85|
|WD||Jim Gaugert (p) Lake Geneva, WI||+18||13 *||+6||84||58||142|
|WD||Tom Potter DeForest, WI||+24||96||96|
|WD||Tracey Ahlborn Minocqua, WI|
|WD||Martin Buehler Arbor Vitae, WI|
|WD||Doug Cheever (p) Schofield, WI|
|WD||Glenn Dahl Madison, WI|
|WD||Pat Griffin Madison, WI|
|WD||Brian Hale Sherwood, WI|
|WD||Jon Oaks Wales, WI|
|WD||Marcus Smith Janesville, WI|
|WD||Michael Wemmert West Bend, WI|
|WD||John Wittkowske Shorewood, WI|
|NS||Rob Remitz (p) Muskego, WI||+9||81||81|
|NS||Didier Ibar New Berlin, WI||+26||98||98|
|NS||Tim Grogan (p) Milwaukee, WI|