Woltman wins to lead first story

Dan Woltman acknowledges the applause after sinking his putt on the 18th green to win his second straight Wisconsin State Open title.

LAKE GENEVA — For 54 holes, Dan Woltman played as well as anyone has ever played in the Wisconsin State Open. He put on a ball-striking clinic, making 18 birdies against a lone bogey. He shot 65-67-67 and had a chance to break the tournament’s 60-year-old scoring record for 72 holes.

As one Wisconsin PGA Section official put it as he held one hand at eye level and the other a foot below it, Woltman was here and everybody else was there.

“It was kind of absurd,” said reigning State Amateur champion Hunter Eichhorn, who was paired with Woltman in each of the first three rounds. “He hit so many shots inside six feet. His ability to flight irons both ways, I mean, he’s just … his ball-striking is phenomenal. And it’s not like he stuffs it and then struggles putting. He rolls it really well.”

A feeling of inevitability, then, hung in the air Wednesday afternoon as Woltman, a native of Beaver Dam and the defending champion, strode onto the first tee of the Trevino Course at Geneva National Resort & Club to begin the final round with a six-shot lead.

In Vegas, they call that a mortal lock. Woltman, 32, was four hours away from becoming a four-time State Open champion and the first to repeat since Steve Stricker in 1991.

SO Top 5 - Patrick Stolpe.jpg

Patrick Stolpe hits out of a fairway bunker during the final round of the Wisconsin State Open on Wednesday. Stolpe finished runner-up to Dan Woltman.

But you know how this game goes. One minute you’re in command of your swing and the next minute it’s organizing a 14-club mutiny. Woltman pull-hooked an iron into the trees off the first tee, which led to a double-bogey. Oostburg native Patrick Stolpe made a birdie and before you could say “Arnold Palmer, 1966 U.S Open,” the lead went from six to three.

“From the first tee, my golf swing was not there,” Woltman said. “It was a completely different animal than the first three rounds.”

He immediately went into grind mode. And even with his C-minus game, he would not be denied. He scratched and clawed his way to a 1-under 71 and held off Stolpe – the only player with a realistic chance to catch him – to win by three shots with an 18-under 270 total.

It was the second-lowest score in State Open history. Only five-time champion Bobby Brue, who shot 268 at Brown County Golf Course in 1959, has gone lower.

“It’s validation for all the work that I’ve put in,” said Woltman, who earned $10,500 for the victory. “Obviously, you guys see the four rounds that I play here. It’s so many hours throughout the winter. I live in Wisconsin year-round and I hit so many golf balls in winter and grind on artificial turf. It’s a lot of work, and it’s validation that I’m making strides in the right direction.

“A couple years ago I don’t think I would have held it together this afternoon. I was able to hold it together enough to get the victory today.”

Stolpe, whose eight-birdie 29 on the front nine of the Trevino in the second round moved the needle on Twitter, battled hard, too, and shot a 68 to finish second at 15-under 273. Almost any other year, that would have been good enough to win the State Open.

“Yeah, but not this year,” said Stolpe, who earned $7,500. “I’m definitely encouraged by my play. I always want to win, but Dan played good. All credit to him.”

Madison native Jim Schuman, who shot 271 at Kenosha Country Club in 1996 to win the first of his two State Open titles, closed with a 71 and finished a distant third at 280.

SO Top 5 - Jim Schuman.jpg

Jim Schuman manages a smile as he jokes with his playing partners during the final round of the Wisconsin State Open. Schuman, a two-time champion, finished third.

Eichhorn, who starts his junior year at Marquette University on Monday, shot a 72 and finished fourth at 282. He was low amateur, and it was four more shots back to Greendale’s Nate Thomson, who leaves Thursday for his senior year at the University of Toledo.

Stolpe got off to just the start he needed, especially with Woltman fighting his swing. He birdied Nos. 1, 3, 5 and 7 to pull to within one stroke. And he might have been in the lead if not for a humongous break Woltman got on the par-5 fifth.

After a good drive, Woltman had 232 yards to the green and decided to go for it with a 3-iron. He hit a low pull and his ball one-hopped into a creek in front of the green … and then magically reappeared, bounding onto the putting surface after caroming off a rock.

He rolled in the 15-foot eagle putt and even though Stolpe made a birdie, it felt like Woltman stole a couple strokes and Stolpe got robbed.

“Ironically, I hit a low pull that just covered the hazard in the morning (round of the 36-hole finale),” Woltman said. “I said, ‘Just don’t hit the same shot.’ And what do I do? I hit this low pull. Obviously, when you win golf tournaments, things have to go your way. That was a nice break.”

Said Stolpe, “That was huge right there. That’s what happens when you win, right? You get good breaks.”

Stolpe was one shot off the lead after his birdie on the par-4 seventh but made a costly mistake on the par-5 eighth with a three-putt bogey – after needing just six putts on the first seven holes. Woltman birdied Nos. 8 and 9 and his lead was back up to four.

“I got off to a hot start and he stumbled a little right out of the gate there so he gave me a little chance,” Stolpe said. “That bogey I made on eight really hurt me.”

But he narrowed the gap to three with a birdie on the 10th hole and picked up another stroke when Woltman bogeyed the par-3 13th after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

The pivotal hole, Woltman said, was the 608-yard par-5 16th, where Stolpe rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt and Woltman made an 8-footer on top of him.

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Nate Thomson | 2019 Wisconsin State Open

“He made birdie and I was like, ‘I’ve got to make this,’” Woltman said. “It was a little double-breaker and it was nice to be able to slide that one in there. I needed that one because obviously only having a one-shot lead with two to go … and he gets the tee on 17, so if he would have stuffed one it would have been a little different ball game.”

As it was, Stolpe three-putted on the par-3 17th, missing a 3-footer for par, and Woltman took a three-shot lead to the 18th hole. When he got his tee shot in the fairway, it was over.

“I haven’t hit it that poorly in a while and to be able to get a couple good breaks, make a couple good putts and be able to still shoot under par, it’s a testament for how much I grinded today,” he said.

However, his final round cost a friend a bit of money.

“I have a certain individual mad at me because he had some money on me getting to 20 under,” Woltman said. “I won’t name who that is, but he’s not going to be extremely happy with me. I thought I had a good chance after going bogey-free this morning, shooting 5-under, and there’s no place where I could have made a bogey. Every single par putt I had was within three feet.

“I mean, I played really solid golf and that’s why it was just such a stark contrast for what I did this afternoon. I’m thankful that I had a large margin going into the final round. I needed most of it.”

Woltman, who has had status on the Korn Ferry and European tours, is playing in the Nebraska Open in a couple weeks and then will get ready for Korn Ferry Tour qualifying. Last year, he missed advancing to the final stage by one stroke.

Winning the State Open is nice, but there’s someplace he’d rather be.

1Daniel Woltman [TR]  Beaver Dam, WI-18F-165676771270 
2Patrick Stolpe [TR]  Scottsdale, AZ-15F-469676968273 
3Jim Schuman [TR]  Scottsdale, AZ-8F-170706971280 
4Hunter Eichhorn (a) [TR]  Carney, MI-6FE69707172282 
5Nate Thomson (a) [TR]  Greendale, WI-2F+269737074286 
T6Tyler Leach (a) [TR]  Spring Valley, WI-1F+172746873287 
T6Garrett Jones (a) [TR]  Madison, WI-1FE75726872287 
T6Kevin Van Rossum (a) [TR]  Hartland, WI-1FE70757072287 
T6Austin Kendziorski [TR]  Germantown, WI-1F-276697270287 
T6Peter Webb [TR]  Madison, WI-1F-270737470287 
T6David Bach [TR]  Cleveland, WI-1F-272697670287 
T12Max Hosking [TR]  Tucson, AZEF-275717270288 
T12Michael Bielawski (a) [TR]  Waukesha, WIEFE73727172288 
T12Chad Sandee [TR]  Sheboygan, WIEF+270756974288 
T12Piercen Hunt (a) [TR]  Hartland, WIEFE74697372288 
T12Emmet Herb (a) [TR]  Middleton, WIEF+171727273288 
T17Garrett Loomis [TR]  RIver Falls, WI+1FE69757372289 
T17Ryan Isaacson [TR]  Eau Claire, WI+1F-273757170289 
T19Jeffrey Kaiser [TR]  Verona, WI+2F+174737073290 
T19John Langhoff [TR]  Pewaukee, WI+2FE73757072290 
T19John Gullberg [TR]  Franksville, WI+2F-170737671290 
T19Austin Gaugert [TR]  Lake Geneva, WI+2F+670736978290 
T19Joe Du Chateau (a) [TR]  Fond du Lac, WI+2FE73766972290 
T24Pete Kuhl (a) [TR]  Madison, WI+3F-574737767291 
T24Mark Voeller [TR]  Pewaukee, WI+3F+171747373291 
T26Andrew Buege [TR]  Abrams, WI+4F+274737174292 
T26Zach Burry [TR]  Appleton, WI+4F-276717570292 
T26Jim Lemon (a) [TR]  Verona, WI+4FE78707272292 
T26Michael Crowley [TR]  Fox Point, WI+4FE73757272292 
T26Owen Butler (a) [TR]  Stoughton, WI+4F+271737474292 
T26Jack Schultz (a) [TR]  Milwaukee, WI+4F+268757574292 
T26Matt Polivka (a) [TR]  Muskego, WI+4F+573677577292 
T33Matt Tolan (a) [TR]  Eau Claire, WI+5F+475736976293 
T33Kaylor Steger [TR]  Mt pleasant, WI+5FE70727972293 
T35CJ Swift [TR]  Naples, FL+6F+569787077294 
T35Mick Smith [TR]  Summit, WI+6FE71757672294 
T35Phillip Johnson (a) [TR]  Colgate, WI+6F+370767375294 
T35Tom Boockmeier [TR]  Oak Creek, WI+6F-173717971294 
T35Andrew Steinhofer [TR]  Madison, WI+6F+368767575294 
T40Kraig Joy [TR]  Neenah, WI+7F+369797275295 
T40Brent Quade [TR]  Madison, WI+7F+272767374295 
T40Thomas Burton [TR]  Milwaukee, WI+7F-173757671295 
T40John Freeman [TR]  Muskego, WI+7F+371737675295 
T44Joe Leonard [TR]  Cambridge, WI+8F+375727475296 
T44Jonathan Duggan Jr. (a) [TR]  Lake Geneva, WI+8F+672717578296 
T44Christopher Colla (a) [TR]  Fond du Lac, WI+8F+176737473296 
T47Ryan Helminen [TR]  Menasha, WI+9F+273737774297 
T47Kyle Driscoll [TR]  Pewaukee, WI+9F-174747871297 
T47Jim Doing (a) [TR]  Verona, WI+9F+670737678297 
T47Kevin Cahill (a) [TR]  Waukesha, WI+9F-172777771297 
T47Zachary Gaugert [TR]  Scottsdale, AZ+9FE76737672297 
T52Benjamin Gilles (a) [TR]  Madison, WI+10F+472767476298 
T52Kyle Henning [TR]  Sussex, WI+10F+473767376298 
T52Michael Higgins [TR]  Madison, WI+10F+474757376298 
T52Erik Stenseth [TR]  Madison, WI+10F+376737475298 
56Joe Weber (a) [TR]  Onalaska, WI+11F+473727876299 
57Bryce Burke [TR]  Jackson, WI+12F+773717779300 
58Evan Wartgow [TR]  Fitchburg, WI+13F+1077707282301 
T59Eddie Terasa [TR]  Waukesha, WI+15F+574747877303 
T59Keith Buntrock [TR]  Franklin, WI+15F+280698074303 
T61Jack McKinney (a) [TR]  Milwaukee, WI+16F+673738078304 
T61Keegan Drugan [TR]  Onalaska, WI+16F+773757779304 
T63Craig Czerniejewski [TR]  Hartford, WI+20F+969797981308 
T63Cameron Huss (a) [TR]  Kenosha, WI+20F+776738079308 
T63Jason Summers (a) [TR]  Richfield, WI+20F+472778376308