Blake Jens has had some distance control issues with his irons of late, so the assistant professional at Pleasant View Golf Club in Middleton went to work on a launch monitor and got them dialed in.
The work paid off Monday, when he shot 66-68 for a 10-under 134 total at Ridgeway Country Club in Neenah and won the National Car Rental Wisconsin Assistant Professional Championship by two strokes.
Joaquin Diaz of Fire Ridge Golf Club in Grafton finished second at 136 after rounds of 65-71.
Jens, 27, who helped Middleton High School win the 2011 WIAA Division 1 title, blistered Ridgeway’s back nine in the first round with a six-birdie 30.
“I think I made maybe one 25-footer,” he said. “I made a couple good solid putts in the 10- to 15-foot range. Honestly, I think I left four putts (short) in the jar, too. I left a few out there in the first round, and I didn’t putt well in the second round. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really pleased but I left some out there, for sure.”
On Aug. 3, Jens attempted to qualify for the 100th State Open at The Oaks in Cottage Grove and shot a 78 with a quintuple-bogey 9 on his second hole (No. 11) and a triple-bogey 7 three holes later.
“At The Oaks, second hole of the day, I hit two 9-irons right at the pin that went over the green and were lost balls, and I had to go back and hit again and made a 9,” he said. “I hit a few iron shots that cost me that I actually hit well but my distance control was really, really poor.
“I worked really hard on my distance control this week and it paid off, because I was pretty good today, hitting it pin-high.”
Jens emerged victorious in the field of 29 assistant pros and earned $1,025. He would have qualified for the National Assistant Professional Championship, Nov. 12-15 at The PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla., but missed the July 29 deadline to apply for the PGA Education Program by two days.
A pre-associate as of the deadline, Jens was eligible to play in Wisconsin Section events, but not national events. Diaz also is a pre-associate and is not eligible to advance to the national championship.
“I turned in my application apparently two days late,” Jens said. “I had it sitting on my table and I was procrastinating scanning it and sending it to the PGA people to get in the program. Technically, now I’m an associate. I thought if I got it in by this tournament, I’d be fine but apparently, I was two days late. If I had known and didn’t get it in on time, then I’d be kicking myself. But I didn’t know.”
The national qualifiers are Jake Wisniewski of Ozaukee Country Club, who finished third at 137 on rounds of 66-71, and Andy Hansen of the University Club of Milwaukee, who finished fourth at 138 on rounds of 70-68.
WPGA SENIOR PROFESSIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
While the assistant pros were playing 36 holes, the first round of the two-day Wisconsin Senior PGA Professional Championship was held concurrently at Ridgeway CC.
And the leaderboard looked oh, so familiar.
Jim Schuman of Blue Mound Golf & Country Club birdied his last three holes for a bogey-free 66 and takes a two-shot lead over Eddie Terasa of North Hills CC into the final round Tuesday. Terasa also turned in a clean card, with no bogeys and four birdies.
Anyone who has followed golf in Wisconsin knows that “Schu” and “Steady Eddie” have been friendly rivals for decades. Both are among the most accomplished club professionals in Wisconsin history, with numerous section titles on their resumes.
Terasa, a three-time Wisconsin State Open champion, recently was named WPGA Senior Player of the Decade (2010-’19). Schuman, a two-time State Open champion, is the reigning WPGA Player of the Year and Senior Player of the Year.
Three other longtime Wisconsin pros were tied for third place after shooting 71s: Dave Spengler of Northbrook Golf and Grill; John Freeman of Edgewood Golf Course, and Jim Gaugert of Harris Golf Cars. PGA Life Member Pat Gorman was alone in sixth place after a 74.
The top three finishers qualify for the Senior PGA Professional Championship, Oct. 3-6 at Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.