MADISON – After the first round of a rain-plagued, waterlogged Wisconsin State Senior Open, Michael Crowley said he “loved playing in the mud and the slop.”
OK, but this was getting ridiculous. The weather for the final round Wednesday was no better, and probably worse. The rain was at turns misty, drizzly and downright nasty, the wind blew and gusted and the air was see-your-breath chilly. Puddles formed in the fairways at Nakoma Golf Club.
How bad was it? Thirty-two players surrendered and withdrew at various stages of the tournament.
And Crowley? He backed up his words, playing the final six holes in 3-under par – an incredible feat, given the conditions – and rolling in birdie putts on Nos. 17 and 18 to overtake two-time defending champion Jim Schuman and claim the title by one shot.
“Well, in the beginning I didn’t like the weather so much,” said Crowley, a Fox Point resident and the head PGA professional at Morningstar Golfers Club. “I kept making bogeys (on Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 7). But I kept having fun and smiling.”
Crowley, who turned 50 in January and was playing in his first State Senior Open, shot a 73 and finished at 3-over 143.
“It’s got to be the biggest (victory) so far in my career,” he said. “I won the (state) assistants championship one year, but this is by far the biggest. I got in my cart and I just kind of lost it a little bit.”
Schuman, the director of instruction at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club, also shot a 73 and finished at 144. Since 2015, when he won the first of his three State Senior Open titles, Schuman has never finished worse than second. His line reads 1-2-2-1-1-2.
“Mike played great,” said Schuman, who worked in the bag room at Nakoma while he attended Madison Edgewood High School. “Mike’s a good player and it’s a good thing seeing these ‘young’ 50-year-olds get out and play, and play well, and win some golf tournaments.”
Kurt Mantyla of Wauwatosa, the PGA teaching professional at Naga-Waukee War Memorial Golf Course, was tied for the lead with Crowley going into the final round and was tied with Crowley, Schuman and Charlie Brown of Sturtevant with nine holes to play.
Mantyla could have taken the lead on No. 15, but failed to convert an 8-foot birdie putt after a splendid recovery shot from the trees. He shot a 75 and finished third at 145. Brown, the head professional at Geneva National Resort & Spa, also closed with a 75 and finished fourth at 146.
“I had some chances,” Mantyla said. “If I could have made that putt (on 15) after the punch-out, it would have been a game-changer.”
Crowley fell two shots behind Schuman and one behind Mantyla when he double-bogeyed the 10th hole, the result of an errant tee shot that sailed left and out of bounds.
“I stood on that tee and I didn’t want to hit driver but I felt like I needed to,” Crowley said. “I’m like, ‘You know, I’m hitting it good. Go ahead and hit it.’ I just stopped (turning) and pulled it. I haven’t hit one left all week like that. After that, I just tried to hang in there because the elements weren’t getting any better. I just tried to keep making pars and hopefully a couple putts would fall, and they finally did.”
Did they ever. He got up and down for par on Nos. 11 and 12, rolled in a short birdie putt on the par-3 13th and saved par again after missing the green on No. 15.
Schuman, meanwhile, kept plodding along, making seven consecutive pars – including four saves – to start the back nine.
“The golf course was a little deteriorated in the end,” he said, “but everybody played in it.”
With two holes to go, Mantyla and Schuman were tied for the lead and Crowley was one back.
The 184-yard par-3 17th was the pivotal hole. Schuman and Mantyla found the left greenside bunker and Crowley hit an excellent shot, 8 feet above the hole.
“I hit a really good shot (Tuesday) on 17,” Crowley said. “It was the same line, just one more club. I’m like, ‘Just hit that same shot,’ and I did.”
Mantyla blasted out to 8 feet. Schuman made an uncharacteristic error, leaving his first shot in the bunker. But he made up for it by holing his next shot for an unlikely par.
“I mean, what a shot,” Crowley said. “Unbelievable. And you don’t expect anything less from him, either. The first one was an oops, but the second one, you know it’s going in.”
After watching that, Crowley gathered himself and rolled in his birdie putt to tie Schuman for the lead. Mantyla missed his par putt, had to settle for a bogey and fell one behind.
Crowley smashed his drive on the 490-yard, par-5 18th and was some 50 yards ahead of Schuman, whose second shot finished in the rough short and right of the green. Crowley hit his second shot into a greenside bunker.
Then Schuman made another mistake, pitching his 40-yard shot some 45 feet above the hole. With plenty of green to work with, Crowley blasted out to 6 feet.
“Jim is standing over that putt on 18 and I’m like, ‘He makes this all the time. All the time, he makes this on me,’ ” Crowley said.
Not this time. Schuman’s putt slid harmlessly past the cup, but he rolled in the nervy 7-foot comebacker for par.
Now it was up to Crowley.
“I didn’t know where I stood, but I kept telling myself I have to make it either way,” he said. “I didn’t know what anybody else did (ahead) of me. I told myself, ‘Just get it on line and do what you’ve been doing and roll it in.’ ”
That’s exactly what happened, and Crowley was the champion. He’d one-putted six of the last eight greens and birdied Nos. 13, 17 and 18 in the pouring rain.
Schuman and Mantyla didn’t lose this tournament. Crowley won it.
“I’m happy for Mikey,” Mantyla said. “I mean, I would have been happier for me. But he finished birdie-birdie. He took it on the last two holes.”
|1||Michael Crowley (p) Fox Point, WI||+3||F||+3||70||73||143|
|2||Jim Schuman (p) Scottsdale, AZ||+4||F||+3||71||73||144|
|3||Kurt Mantyla (p) Wauwatosa, WI||+5||F||+5||70||75||145|
|4||Charlie Brown (p) Sturtevant, WI||+6||F||+5||71||75||146|
|T5||John Kestly Pewaukee, WI||+9||F *||+3||76||73||149|
|T5||Rocky Sperka New Berlin, WI||+9||F||+6||73||76||149|
|T5||Jeff Lister Greendale, WI||+9||F||+7||72||77||149|
|T8||John Freeman (p) Muskego, WI||+10||F||+1||79||71||150|
|T8||Jim Doing Verona, WI||+10||F||+7||73||77||150|
|T8||Brian Liddy Green Bay, WI||+10||F||+9||71||79||150|
|T11||Brian Buss Eau Claire, WI||+12||F||+3||79||73||152|
|T11||Jeff Bisbee (p) Green Bay, WI||+12||F *||+5||77||75||152|
|T11||JT Johnson Eden Prairie, MN||+12||F||+8||74||78||152|
|T14||Mike Smith Pewaukee, WI||+13||F||+4||79||74||153|
|T14||Mike Murphy Fitchburg, WI||+13||F||+7||76||77||153|
|T14||Kelly Berger (p) Mosinee, WI||+13||F *||+7||76||77||153|
|T14||Steve Krause (p) Waterford, WI||+13||F||+8||75||78||153|
|T14||Jason Zahradka New Richmond, WI||+13||F *||+6||77||76||153|
|T14||Paul Zarek Burlington, WI||+13||F||+9||74||79||153|
|T20||Paul Schwarz Appleton, WI||+14||F *||+7||77||77||154|
|T20||John Aufderhaar Watertown, WI||+14||F||+11||73||81||154|
|T22||Mike Aumann Blue Mounds, WI||+15||F||+9||76||79||155|
|T22||Chuck Garbedian Waukesha, WI||+15||F||+10||75||80||155|
|T22||Paul Williamson Holmen, WI||+15||F||+12||73||82||155|
|25||Rich Tock (p) Mequon, WI||+16||F||+4||82||74||156|
|T26||Brian Brugger Franklin, WI||+17||F||+12||75||82||157|
|T26||Jeffrey Budd Waupun, WI||+17||F||+12||75||82||157|
|T28||Jim Humbert Waukesha, WI||+18||F||+8||80||78||158|
|T28||Dave Spengler (p) Sobieski, WI||+18||F||+13||75||83||158|
|T28||Kevin Schoppe (p) Mosinee, WI||+18||F||+14||74||84||158|
|T28||Brad Peck (p) Madison, WI||+18||F *||+10||78||80||158|
|T28||Bruce Henning Brookfield, WI||+18||F *||+10||78||80||158|
|T28||Jim Gaugert (p) Lake Geneva, WI||+18||F *||+10||78||80||158|
|T28||Mark Dalebroux Madison, WI||+18||F *||+9||79||79||158|
|T35||Bob Pyle Green Bay, WI||+19||F||+7||82||77||159|
|T35||Paul Borek Greenville, WI||+19||F *||+11||78||81||159|
|T37||Tom Chambers Union Grove, WI||+20||F||+10||80||80||160|
|T37||Eddie Terasa (p) Waukesha, WI||+20||F *||+13||77||83||160|
|T39||Steve Schreck New Berlin, WI||+21||F||+12||79||82||161|
|T39||Sterling Haumont (p) Williams Bay, WI||+21||F||+12||79||82||161|
|T39||Michael Drugan Holmen, WI||+21||F *||+13||78||83||161|
|T42||Daniel Moore Nekoosa, WI||+22||F||+10||82||80||162|
|T42||Tim Torkelson Delavan, WI||+22||F||+10||82||80||162|
|T42||Mark Krause (p) Franklin, WI||+22||F||+13||79||83||162|
|T42||Doug Cheever (p) Schofield, WI||+22||F *||+16||76||86||162|
|T42||Jamie Young Pleasant Prairie, WI||+22||F *||+14||78||84||162|
|47||Steve Scheel (p) Sun Prairie, WI||+23||F *||+8||85||78||163|
|T48||Bill Crinzi Milwaukee, WI||+24||F *||+10||84||80||164|
|T48||Darin Saari (p) Plymouth, WI||+24||F||+13||81||83||164|
|T48||Peter Krause (p) Milwaukee, WI||+24||F *||+16||78||86||164|
|T51||Randy Warobick Muskego, WI||+25||F *||+11||84||81||165|
|T51||John Wallrich (p) Sheboygan, WI||+25||F *||+10||85||80||165|
|53||Jeff Knudtson Delafield, WI||+26||F||+13||83||83||166|
|T54||Timothy Christensen Brookfield, WI||+27||F *||+12||85||82||167|
|T54||Mike Landry Waukesha, WI||+27||F||+17||80||87||167|
|T56||Mike Peterson New Richmond, WI||+29||F||+16||83||86||169|
|T56||Steve Nibbe Madison, WI||+29||F *||+15||84||85||169|
|58||Robert Elliott (p) Delafield, WI||+30||F||+18||82||88||170|
|T59||Evan Hewes (p) Cedarburg, WI||+32||F||+21||81||91||172|
|T59||Steve Babcock Brodhead, WI||+32||F *||+13||89||83||172|
|61||Didier Ibar New Berlin, WI||+33||F *||+15||88||85||173|
|62||Jeffrey Campbell (p) Sturgeon Bay, WI||+34||F *||+18||86||88||174|
|T63||Keith Luedtke South Milwaukee, WI||+35||F *||+21||84||91||175|
|T63||Scott Semingson Strum, WI||+35||F *||+20||85||90||175|
|T65||Todd Cook Beaver Dam, WI||+36||F *||+19||87||89||176|
|T65||Michael Wemmert West Bend, WI||+36||F *||+19||87||89||176|
|67||Mark Knackert Brookfield, WI||+37||F *||+17||90||87||177|
|68||Eric Popovich (p) Beaver Dam, WI||+38||F *||+14||94||84||178|
|69||Bryan Schreck Brookfield, WI||+45||F *||+16||99||86||185|
|70||Bill Walter Wind Lake, WI||+47||F *||+22||95||92||187|
|71||Scott Price (p) Milwaukee, WI||+48||F *||+20||98||90||188|
|72||Martin Cherney Brookfield, WI||+52||F *||+29||93||99||192|
|DID NOT FINISH|
|WD||Ron Hyde Waukesha, WI||+7||77||77|
|WD||Robert Gregorski Menasha, WI||+7||77||77|
|WD||Richard Rasmussen (p) Oconomowoc, WI||+8||78||78|
|WD||Timothy Kramer Suamico, WI||+8||58||58|
|WD||Pat Gorman (p) Madison, WI||+9||79||79|
|WD||Kevin Cahill Waukesha, WI||+9||79||79|
|WD||Scott Lauerman Menominee, MI||+9||62||62|
|WD||Richard Regenberg Madison, WI||+10||80||80|
|WD||Tom Mcclintock Onalaska, WI||+10||80||80|
|WD||Clark Eichstedt (p) Kewaskum, WI||+10||69||69|
|WD||Mark Basch Sturgeon Bay, WI||+10||59||59|
|WD||Ramiro Romo Burlington, WI||+11||81||81|
|WD||Jim Rollefson Franklin, WI||+11||68||68|
|WD||Tim Grogan (p) Milwaukee, WI||+12||82||82|
|WD||Chris Goodwick (p) West Bend, WI||+12||61||61|
|WD||Matthew Stottern (p) Fish Creek, WI||+12||62||62|
|WD||Thomas Halla Colgate, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||Jim Sigel Sussex, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||John Wittkowske Shorewood, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||Kevin Walsh Oshkosh, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||Michael ONeil Muskego, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||Tim Johnson Beloit, WI||+13||83||83|
|WD||Fred Weigandt Lake Geneva, WI||+15||85||85|
|WD||Eric Peter Elm Grove, WI||+16||86||86|
|WD||Gregory Dick (p) Glendale, WI||+16||86||86|
|WD||Robert Feller (p) Reedsburg, WI|
|WD||Marshall Gavre (p) Fairfield, IA|
|WD||Mark Hansen (p) Mequon, WI|
|WD||Mike Muranyi (p) Monroe, WI|
|WD||PJ Murphy Middleton, WI|
|WD||Todd Schaap Kenosha, WI|
|WD||Dan Stahlkopf Oak Creek, WI|