State Am Final Piercen Hunt shot

2021 Wisconsin State Am champion Piercent Hunt watches this shot on Thursday during the tournament’s final round.

BROOKFIELD – Winning the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship has been high on Piercen Hunt’s list of goals since 2018, when he tied for fourth at Minocqua Country Club as a precocious 16-year-old and hung around to watch Harrison Ott beat Thomas Longbella in an epic eight-hole playoff.

“That was the point,” he said, “where I knew my game could hold its own against a lot of the guys older than me.”

Hunt missed the State Amateur last year because of a conflict with the Western Amateur, so he circled this week on his calendar. With humility that matches his talent, the rising sophomore at the University of Illinois admitted Thursday evening that, “I kind of had an expectation for myself for the week.”

In other words, look out, boys, I’m here to win.

And so, while Hunt made it look easy, cruising to a six-shot victory at Westmoor Country Club, the self-induced pressure made for a difficult four days. He looked unflappable on the outside, but on the inside, there was some flapping going on.

“I didn’t really get a lot of sleep the entire week, honestly,” he said. “It was difficult. A lot of nerves. Not a lot of sleep. Coming out to start the round this morning, having my hand shake a little on that first drive … it’s probably the most nervous I’ve ever been to start rounds for the entire week.”

Nerves? What nerves? Hunt started the final round by sticking his approach to 8 feet on No. 1 and rolling in the birdie putt.

“He came out and birdied one and I kind of knew I was going to have to do something pretty special today, because he was pretty locked in,” said Cameron Huss, a rising sophomore at the University of Wisconsin who was paired all four days with Hunt.

A double-bogey on the par-4 seventh gave a flicker of hope to his pursuers, but Hunt extinguished it with a clutch par save on the next hole, birdied the par-5 ninth and never looked back. He shot a 1-under 69 – one of just three sub-par rounds on the day – and finished the 72-hole tournament at 1-under 279.

The former two-time WIAA state champion at Hartland Arrowhead High School thus joined Bob Gregorski, Steve Stricker, Mark Wilson, Hunter Eichhorn and Longbella as the only players to win both the WSGA State Junior and State Amateur titles in the last 50 years.

“When I won the state junior a few years back, it was really big for me,” Hunt said. “Outside of high school golf, that was my first real big win and it helped me have some confidence that I was taking the right steps and making the progress I needed to make to get to the bigger (tournaments) and national events. To join the small list of the guys who have won both is really special to me.”

Hunt’s 72-hole score was nine strokes better than the 288 total that David Roesch posted in winning the 2004 State Open at Westmoor, and 11 shots better than the 290 that Casey Brozek posted in winning the 1991 State Amateur on the same course.

“He’s just a stud,” said Adam Garski, who played with Hunt and Huss in the final group and tied for fourth. “That’s all there is to it.”

Eichhorn, a rising senior at Marquette University and the 2019 State Amateur champion, closed with a bogey-free 66 and tied for second place with Adam Miller of Nekoosa at 5-over 285. Miller played the final 10 holes in 3-under and shot a 68, but neither player ever threatened Hunt’s lead.

“I mean, basically at that point it’s a one-man show,” Miller said. “Piercen decides his own fate. If he goes out and plays a good round, it’s very tough to have somebody catch him on a course like this. So, I’m not really worried about him. I’m more worried about my own game, doing what I can. I was able to get it around pretty good today.”

Hunt cruised through the first six holes at 1-under, building his lead to seven shots over Huss and eight over Garski, before he finally made a mistake. His drive found the right rough and his punch shot under a tree limb bounded over the green. He then hit a nice pitch to 10 feet but proceeded to three-putt for a double-bogey, missing a 3-foot comebacker for bogey.

“The short putt I missed on seven was more just a lack of focus,” Hunt said. “Just a lapse. That was one of the first times it’s happened to me all week, so pretty fortunate that I played almost four full rounds of golf without doing that.”

On the long eighth hole, converted from a par-5 to a par-4 for the tournament, Hunt hit a big drive but his approach trickled over the back of the green. He then stubbed his chip, leaving it some 20 feet short of the hole, but his par putt went dead in the middle.

‘You’re thinking OK, he’s sort of showing a little sign of weakness, but then he pours in the putt like a champ,” Garski said. “I think both Cameron and I needed to get out to a 3-, 4-under start to get within three (shots of the lead) and then if he does that, it’s a little game change. But with his six-, seven-shot lead he can afford that.”

Hunt ended what little suspense remained by rolling in a ticklish 18-footer from above the hole for birdie on the par-5 ninth. By then, it was obvious: nobody was going to beat him. He shot 1-under on the back nine, with eight pars and a birdie on the par-5 15th, where he hit a beautiful pitch over a greenside bunker to 3 feet.

“What stands out since he came back from his freshman year at Illinois is how calm he is, how poised he is,” said John Bauer Jr., Hunt’s swing coach for the last six years. “He just had a quiet confidence about him all week. He just looked the part all week. It was amazing.

“I don’t feel like he lets his bad shots get to him anymore. He just goes about his business. Very calm. Next shot. Amazing maturity for a 19-year-old.”

Hunt, who wasn’t able to crack Illinois’ lineup as a freshman but played as an individual in tournaments, said he has worked hard on his mental approach.

“Settling into rounds, putting results out of my mind, has been a huge focus for the last year and a half because I’ve gotten in my own way thinking about where I am in a tournament or what score I’m at – all the different things that can hurt you,” he said. “I did a really good job of managing my mental game this week and was able to make it pretty simple for myself.”

Eichhorn was able to climb into a tie for second with his 66. He played the final 36 holes in 3-under.

“I knew I was playing well after yesterday and I could put together a good round today,” he said. “Obviously, I was going to need some help from Piercen. But it was good to have a final round like this. It’s definitely a confidence booster going forward. Honestly, wherever I finish, whether it’s second, third, fourth, these last two days I’ve made a lot of progress, especially where I need to be mentally, my focus, my decision making. And I started to hit the ball a lot better.

“So regardless of my finish, I’m happy with how I played the last two days.”

Jack Schultz of Milwaukee, a perennial contender in the State Amateur and a three-time WSGA player of the year, tied for fourth with Garski. Schultz’s quintuple-bogey 9 on the 10th hole in Round 2 led to an 81; his other scores were 69, 68 and 71.

Huss closed with a 75 and finished sixth at 290. He was followed by two former State Amateur champions: Matt Tolan of Eau Claire, who won in 2017, shot a 71 and was seventh at 291; Longbella, the defending champion who plans to turn pro for the State Open next month, shot a 75 and was eighth at 293.

“I just learned that no matter how hard it plays, it’s really important to grind,” Huss said. “I learned I’m good enough to play with anyone in the state, really. I’d love to get one here soon.”

Huss is where Hunt was a couple of years ago, knocking on the door. His time will come.

As for Hunt? His time is now.

POS
 
PLAYER
TOTAL
THRU
TODAY
R1
R2
R3
R4
STROKES
 
1-Piercen Hunt  Hartland, WI-1F-168727069279 
T2
Arrow Up
 6
Hunter Eichhorn  Carney, MI+5F-472767166285 
T2
Arrow Up
 2
Adam Miller  Nekoosa, WI+5F-274727168285 
T4
Arrow Up
 1
Jack Schultz  Milwaukee, WI+9F+169816871289 
T4
Arrow Down
 1
Adam Garski  Wauwatosa, WI+9F+371737273289 
6
Arrow Down
 4
Cameron Huss  Kenosha, WI+10F+574697275290 
7
Arrow Up
 2
Matt Tolan  Eau Claire, WI+11F+169777471291 
8
Arrow Down
 3
Thomas Longbella  Chippewa Falls, WI+13F+573737275293 
T9
Arrow Up
 4
Zak Kulka  Beaver Dam, WI+14F+264797972294 
T9
Arrow Up
 1
Ethan Wilkins  Sussex, WI+14F+374757273294 
T11
Arrow Up
 11
Evan Myers  Northbrook, IL+16F+178777071296 
T11
Arrow Up
 3
Dylan Brown  Reedsburg, WI+16F+372718073296 
T11
Arrow Down
 6
Gabe Dahl  Green Bay, WI+16F+872757178296 
14
Arrow Up
 5
John Blair  Wauwatosa, WI+17F+375767373297 
T15
Arrow Up
 10
Michael Harris  Brookfield, WI+18F+274777572298 
T15
Arrow Up
 7
Joe Forsting  Edgerton, WI+18F+373777573298 
T15
Arrow Down
 1
Jed Baranczyk  Green Bay, WI+18F+572698275298 
T15
Arrow Down
 1
Christopher Colla  Fond Du Lac, WI+18F+573787275298 
T19
Arrow Up
 3
Zach Place  Roselle, IL+19F+474777474299 
T19
Arrow Down
 9
Jon Sauer  Appleton, WI+19F+870757678299 
21
Arrow Down
 7
Kevin Van Rossum  Hartland, WI+20F+772757677300 
T22
Arrow Down
 3
Steven Sanicki  Menomonee Falls, WI+21F+776777177301 
T22
Arrow Down
 8
Tom Boockmeier  Oak Creek, WI+21F+872757678301 
T22
Arrow Down
 12
Matthew Raab  Hartland, WI+21F+1075737380301 
25
Arrow Up
 8
Sebastian Kasun  Elm Grove, Wisconsin+22F+274827472302 
T26
Arrow Up
 23
Tyler Church  Holmen, WI+23FE78777870303 
T26
Arrow Up
 13
Nate Thomson  Greendale, WI+23F+276777872303 
T26
Arrow Up
 6
Bennett Swavely  Hudson, WI+23F+475807474303 
T26
Arrow Up
 1
Daniel Ozga  Edgerton, WI+23F+669797976303 
30
Arrow Up
 9
Bob Tierney  Lake Geneva, WI+24F+372817873304 
T31
Arrow Up
 2
Sam Van Galder  Janesville, WI+25F+575767975305 
T31
Arrow Down
 2
Carl Christiansen  Naperville, IL+25F+774797577305 
T33
Arrow Up
 6
Ed Dzirbik  Brookfield, WI+26F+576797675306 
T33
Arrow Down
 4
Ryonen Faris  Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin+26F+878727878306 
T33
Arrow Down
 8
Michael Bielawski  Waukesha, WI+26F+1075777480306 
36
Arrow Down
 9
Nick Nelson  Milwaukee, WI+27F+1078757480307 
T37
Arrow Up
 15
Robert Gregorski  Menasha, WI+28F+476778174308 
T37
Arrow Up
 12
Tyler Leach  Spring Valley, WI+28F+579777775308 
T37
Arrow Up
 2
Jim Doing  Verona, WI+28F+778787577308 
T37
Arrow Down
 4
Matt Polivka  Muskego, WI+28F+878767678308 
T37
Arrow Down
 8
Mason Schmidtke  Sheboygan, WI+28F+1075777680308 
T37
Arrow Down
 18
Aidan Lafferty  Downers Grove, Illinois+28F+1476767284308 
T43
Arrow Up
 16
Ryan Zikeli  Hartland, WI+30F+477778274310 
T43
Arrow Up
 9
Joe DuChateau  Fond Du Lac, WI+30F+683737876310 
T43
Arrow Up
 1
Maxwell Schmidtke  Sheboygan, WI+30F+874817778310 
T43
Arrow Up
 1
Joe Weber  West Salem, WI+30F+876738378310 
T43
Arrow Up
 1
Drake Wilcox  Sheboygan, WI+30F+873778278310 
T43
Arrow Down
 4
Nathan Daugherty  Lake Villa, IL+30F+971847679310 
T49
Arrow Up
 10
Grant Boyson  Neenah, WI+31F+573808375311 
T49
Arrow Down
 16
Jason Jahnke  Kewaskum, WI+31F+1174797781311 
T51
Arrow Up
 10
Travis Meyer  River Falls, WI+32F+574818275312 
T51
Arrow Up
 5
Ryan Smith  Eatonton, GA+32F+775778377312 
T51
Arrow Down
 18
Alex Yost  Hartland, WI+32F+1278787482312 
T54
Arrow Up
 2
Jarrett Simonson  Kenosha, WI+33F+878768178313 
T54
Arrow Down
 2
Derek Hilmershausen  Wausau, WI+33F+972837979313 
T54
Arrow Down
 21
David Brock  Mequon, WI+33F+1377757883313 
T57
Arrow Down
 5
Logan Haight  Hartland, WI+34F+1077778080314 
T57
Arrow Down
 13
Matthew Davidson  Mcfarland, WI+34F+1279757882314 
T59
Arrow Up
 2
Matt Werner  Appleton, WI+35F+874808378315 
T59
Arrow Down
 10
Eli Myers  Northbrook, IL+35F+1273788282315 
T61-George Botts  Madison, WI+36F+975798379316 
T61
Arrow Down
 17
Daniel Benedum  Colgate, WI+36F+1477797684316 
63
Arrow Down
 7
Rocky Sperka  New Berlin, WI+37F+1277797982317 
64-Jeff Anderson  LaCrosse, WI+38F+1076788480318 
T65
Arrow Up
 1
Austin Gaby  Verona, WI+41F+1076808580321 
T65
Arrow Down
 1
Tom Schoewe  Sun Prairie, WI+41F+1378788283321 
67
Arrow Up
 1
Sam Cianciola  Nekoosa, WI+42F+876798978322 
68
Arrow Down
 2
Trent Meyer  Lake Nebagamon, WI+44F+1377768883324 

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