For Phillip Johnson, this week is all about who's next.
What's next is a question that the Colgate golfer and recent Dayton graduate will face in late August when he begins a 10-month stint in Ireland as part of the Victory Scholar Program, sponsored by golfer Rory McIlroy's foundation.
It will take him to Ireland where participants become actively involved within the local communities, growing participation in sport and acting as mentors to help raise the aspirations of young people with whom they work. It will help those like Johnson who become immersed in the program develop a global view of the world as they develop strong leadership skills and character.
In the meantime, it's business as usual for Johnson, who enjoyed a breakout summer on the Wisconsin amateur circuit in 2017 with a runner-up finish at the Wisconsin State Open and a ninth-place showing at the State Amateur.
Johnson got his summer going Tuesday by dispatching UW-Green Bay coach Lee Reinke 7-and-6 in the Round of 64 and Carl Hottmann of Middleton 5-and-3 in the Round of 32 at the WSGA Match-Play Championship at Blackhawk CC. Those victories set up a showdown Wednesday against University of Wisconsin golfer Samuel Anderson in the Round of 16 as this event enters its third day.
"(I) kept the tee shots in the fairway most of the day, which was big since Blackhawk is so narrow," Johnson wrote in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "(My) wedge game was good (Tuesday) morning for sure. Graduation hasn’t changed my expectations yet. (I) still expect to play at a high level."
It was an eventful opening day of matches on the short-but-tight Blackhawk CC layout that began with two head-turning surprises in the Round of 64.
Middleton's Emmet Herb, playing on his home course with head pro Derek Schnarr as his caddie, lost a 20-hole classic to Lake Geneva's Blake Wisdom. Herb made eight birdies to Wisdom's five, but lost three holes on bogeys.
Whitefish Bay's Jack Schultz, the 2017 WSGA golfer of the year and Monday's qualifying medalist with a 5-under 67, was bounced by No. 64 seed Adam Miller of Lodi. Miller made five birdies, including three in a row starting at No. 13, before matching Schultz's par 3 at No. 16 gave him the 3-up victory.
"The big difference was match play vs. stroke play, and rhythm is a good word to describe the change," Schultz wrote in a Twitter message. "I think I said this (Monday), how I hadn't played a match in a long time and didn't know how it'd go. I guess this showed I liked the stroke-play mindset of having every shot count, rather that finishing a hole and that being the end of what happened. We always hear of people saying to keep the same mindset as a stroke-play round in a match and it seems like they're right.
"Adam also played well, of course, (so it) wasn't on me for not keeping going from (Monday). I played with him at the Dairyland (Open in Prairie du Sac) on Sunday, actually, and wouldn’t have expected he’d be the 64th seed."
Miller went on to drop a 3-and-1 decision to Cedarburg's Steven Young in the Round of 32, leaving Young to battle Marquette golfer Charlie Maleki in the Round of 16. The other Golden Eagles golfer still alive in match play, Hunter Eichhorn, topped No. 63 Christopher Dupuis 5-and-3 and Bryce Burke 3-and-1 to set up a showdown with reigning Wisconsin State Amateur champion Matt Tolan of Eau Claire, a University of South Dakota golfer, in the Round of 16.
"I felt pretty good about both (matches)," Eichhorn said. "(The) second match was a struggle, but thankfully I was able to pull through. The only key for me was to stay aggressive on everything. Definitely seeing (Jack Schultz) upset makes you lock in a little more, because in match play anything is possible."
Indeed, there are several intriguing storylines that could play out over the final two days of the competition.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current CBS football commentator Tony Romo has made it to the Round of 16. He birdied his first three holes of his morning match with former Illinois Wesleyan golfer Conner O'Neil, losing to an eagle on No. 10 to start the day before rallying to win in 19 holes. He then topped UW-Green Bay golfer Brady Sarauer 4-and-2 in the afternoon, closing out the match with an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole.
Defending champion Michael Bielawski of Waukesha, who last week won the WSGA State Bestball Championship with partner Garrett Jones, dispatched Rocky Sperka of New Berlin and Sam Galloway of Neenah to keep his repeat hopes alive. No golfer has won back-to-back titles since Jon Turcott in 2003.