2021 Wisconsin State Amateur | Zak Kulka, Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam's Zak Kulka, left, shakes hands with sister/caddie Ashley after the UW-Green Bay golfers teamed up to help Zak shoot 6-under-par 64 in the first round of the 2021 Wisconsin State Amateur Championship at Westmoor CC in Brookfield. 

BROOKFIELD — Thomas Longbella. Hunter Eichhorn. Matt Tolan. They all have their name on the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship trophy.

Piercen Hunt. Cameron Huss. Tyler Leach. Nate Thomson. Christopher Colla. They are five other college-age golfers in this year's State Am at Westmoor Country Club whose recent performance in this and similar gatherings of the state's top amateurs would suggest their time is coming — maybe this week.

And then there is Zak Kulka, the soft-spoken Beaver Dam golfer who quietly went to UW-Green Bay two years ago and has been waiting for the day when his name could be mentioned alongside the others on a State Am watchlist.

That day came Monday. And Kulka was four shots clear of any of them.

The rising sophomore at UWGB carded a bogey-free round in competition for the first time in his career and chose the first round of the 120th State Am to do it. He had six birdies on a day when only 28 golfers in the 156-player field had more than two and his 6-under-par 64 left him with a four-shot lead over Hunt, who birdied his final hole to salvage a 68 from a bumpy second nine in the late afternoon where he had five birdies, three bogeys and a lonely par. 

Tolan, the 2017 champion from Eau Claire, led a group of three golfers at 1-under 69 that included Edgerton's Daniel Ozga and Milwaukee's Jack Schultz, who has an early tee time Tuesday and tickets to Game 6 of the NBA Finals to watch his beloved Milwaukee Bucks try to win their first title in 50 years. Jon Sauer, a former mini-tour golfer who has won the Fox Cities Amateur three times since regaining amateur status, was the only golfer to match par 70.

"Those are all great players," Zulka said as his listened to the roll call of the aforementioned college standouts to have won or contended in recent State Ams while he has fared no better than T-19 (in 2019) in his three previous starts. "I've just wanted to put my best score up there and compete."

That he did on the tight fairways and slick greens of Westmoor.

With sister Ashley, also a UW-Green Bay golfer, on the bag, Zak Kulka hit 16 of 18 greens and seven of 14 fairways — "That's actually a pretty good number for Zak," Ashley said as she crunched the numbers of her brother's round — to shoot his first sub-70 score in a men's amateur tournament. He birdied four holes in a six-hole span starting at No. 2 to get his round started and added two more birdies to the mix at Nos. 10 and 15 to finish it off.

"It was a good day overall," Kulka said. "I started off and I made a good putt for par (on No. 1) and then hit a good second shot on No. 2 and made that one (for a birdie). I was just trying to hit middle of greens and make putts."

Hunt, a redshirt freshman at the University of Illinois, longs for a day when his scorecard looks as sqeaky clean as the one that Kulka kept Monday. The two-time WIAA Division 1 state champion thought his day had arrived Monday, too, after making seven pars, a birdie and a bogy on his opening nine.

After turning from the back nine to front, however, Hunt rode the Westmoor rollercoaster all the way back to the clubhouse. He went birdie-par-birdie before his lone par on his inward nine and birdie-birdie-bogey-bogey-birdie after it, admitting afterward that birdie on No. 9 was a boost to his spirits.

"Birdieing the last was definitely something I needed, probably, going into (Tuesday) coming off of bogeys on the two holes before that," Hunt said, comparing the back nine to the recent 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifier he won at Watertown CC with 15 birdies, 14 pars, six bogeys and a double-bogey.

"I two-putted every hole on the back nine (Monday), my front, so it was pretty frustrating heading to that second nine knowing that I was hitting it well and not really capitalizing on what I was doing. ... I just made a couple careless mistakes on this second nine, the front, and it cost me shots. That's what the course is going to do to you this week. I played well enough on all the other holes I was able to salvage a good round and post a good score.

"But I look to come out (Tuesday) morning with a soft, fresh course and see what we can do."

With a local forecast that calls for the potential for a "pneumonia front" in which the expected high temperature (86) could drop into the low 70s in a matter of hours, leaderboard watching could prove interesting Tuesday.

That's the hope of defending champion Thomas Longbella. The University of Minnesota golfer from Chippewa Falls, who erased a two-shot deficit after 18 holes last year at Milwaukee CC to win by 10, is nine shots behind Kulka after an opening 73, but he is only five shots out of second with 54 holes to go.

"I felt like I struck it really well, honestly; I just didn't score at all," Longbella said, saying he is still adjusting to greens as fast as those at Westmoor and had a four-putt double-bogey on his card Monday to prove it. "I felt that was kind of the highest score I was going to shoot. The game is in a good spot.

"I'm excited to go out (Tuesday) and give it another go."

1Zak Kulka  Beaver Dam, WI-6F-664   64 
2Piercen Hunt  Hartland, WI-2F *-268   68 
T3Matt Tolan  Eau Claire, WI-1F *-169   69 
T3Jack Schultz  Milwaukee, WI-1F *-169   69 
T3Daniel Ozga  Edgerton, WI-1F *-169   69 
6Jon Sauer  Appleton, WIEFE70   70 
T7Adam Garski  Wauwatosa, WI+1F+171   71 
T7Nathan Daugherty  Lake Villa, IL+1F *+171   71 
T9Jed Baranczyk  Green Bay, WI+2F+272   72 
T9Kevin Van Rossum  Hartland, WI+2F *+272   72 
T9Dylan Brown  Reedsburg, WI+2F+272   72 
T9Tom Boockmeier  Oak Creek, WI+2F *+272   72 
T9Bob Tierney  Lake Geneva, WI+2F *+272   72 
T9Hunter Eichhorn  Carney, MI+2F *+272   72 
T9Derek Hilmershausen  Wausau, WI+2F+272   72 
T9Gabe Dahl  Green Bay, WI+2F+272   72 
T17Grant Boyson  Neenah, WI+3F+373   73 
T17Drake Wilcox  Sheboygan, WI+3F *+373   73 
T17Thomas Longbella  Chippewa Falls, WI+3F *+373   73 
T17Joe Forsting  Edgerton, WI+3F *+373   73 
T17Christopher Colla  Fond Du Lac, WI+3F+373   73 
T17Eli Myers  Northbrook, IL+3F *+373   73 
T17Eric Dyreson  Mazomanie, WI+3F+373   73 
T24Carl Christiansen  Naperville, IL+4F+474   74 
T24Zach Place  Roselle, IL+4F+474   74 
T24Daniel Viera  Menomonee Falls, WI+4F *+474   74 
T24Jason Jahnke  Kewaskum, WI+4F+474   74 
T24Ethan Wilkins  Sussex, WI+4F+474   74 
T24Robert Hughes  Wauwatosa, WI+4F+474   74 
T24Maxwell Schmidtke  Sheboygan, WI+4F+474   74 
T24Sebastian Kasun  Elm Grove, Wisconsin+4F+474   74 
T24Michael Harris  Brookfield, WI+4F *+474   74 
T24Travis Meyer  River Falls, WI+4F *+474   74 
T24Cameron Huss  Kenosha, WI+4F *+474   74 
T24Adam Miller  Nekoosa, WI+4F *+474   74 
T24Matt Werner  Appleton, WI+4F *+474   74 
T37George Botts  Madison, WI+5F+575   75 
T37Matthew Raab  Hartland, WI+5F *+575   75 
T37Ryan Smith  Eatonton, GA+5F *+575   75 
T37John Blair  Wauwatosa, WI+5F *+575   75 
T37Mason Schmidtke  Sheboygan, WI+5F+575   75 
T37Sam Van Galder  Janesville, WI+5F+575   75 
T37Michael Bielawski  Waukesha, WI+5F *+575   75 
T37Garrett Gosh  Hartland, WI+5F *+575   75 
T37Bennett Swavely  Hudson, WI+5F+575   75 
T46Ed Dzirbik  Brookfield, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Shaun Borre  La Crosse, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Steven Sanicki  Menomonee Falls, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Max Reis  De Pere, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Austin Gaby  Verona, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Nate Thomson  Greendale, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Jack Summers  Richfield, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Jeff Anderson  LaCrosse, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Robert Gregorski  Menasha, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Kasey Casper  Coleman, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Austin Resop  Fitchburg, WI+6F+676   76 
T46Aidan Lafferty  Downers Grove, Illinois+6F+676   76 
T46Sam Cianciola  Nekoosa, WI+6F *+676   76 
T46Joe Weber  West Salem, WI+6F *+676   76 
T60Brad Finger  Waukesha, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Drew Sagrillo  Mequon, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Rocky Sperka  New Berlin, WI+7F *+777   77 
T60David Brock  Mequon, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Trent Meyer  Lake Nebagamon, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Logan Haight  Hartland, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Ryan Zikeli  Hartland, WI+7F+777   77 
T60R.J. Schwalbach  Downers Grove, IL+7F *+777   77 
T60Matt Elstad  Oconomowoc, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Daniel Benedum  Colgate, WI+7F+777   77 
T60Paul Zarek  Burlington, WI+7F *+777   77 
T71Nick Nelson  Milwaukee, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Tyler Church  Holmen, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Kevin Cahill  Waukesha, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Tom Schoewe  Sun Prairie, WI+8F+878   78 
T71Alex Yost  Hartland, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Matt Polivka  Muskego, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Jarrett Simonson  Kenosha, WI+8F+878   78 
T71Griffin Pohl  Western Springs, IL+8F *+878   78 
T71Dawson Hinz  Baraboo, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Jim Doing  Verona, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Ryonen Faris  Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin+8F+878   78 
T71Evan Myers  Northbrook, IL+8F *+878   78 
T71Kody Koehn  Mukwonago, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Dylan Karvala  New Berlin, WI+8F *+878   78 
T71Billy McKay  Milwaukee, WI+8F+878   78 
T71Jason Zahradka  New Richmond, WI+8F *+878   78 
T87John Kestly  Pewaukee, WI+9F *+979   79 
T87Cory Aune  Lake Geneva, WI+9F *+979   79 
T87Matthew Davidson  Mcfarland, WI+9F *+979   79 
T87Sam Sonsalla  Brookfield, WI+9F+979   79 
T87Nick Kulig  Arcadia, WI+9F+979   79 
T87Tyler Leach  Spring Valley, WI+9F *+979   79 
T87Scott Erickson  Sparta, WI+9F *+979   79 
T87Kaeden Nomm  Minocqua, WI+9F+979   79 
T95Jonathan Fall  Cedarburg, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Michael Fischbach  Milwaukee, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Mike McDonald  West Bend, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T95Pat Boyle  Greendale, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T95Jacob Werlein  Waunakee, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Elliott Nielsen  Fond du lac, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Cal Meyers  Milwaukee, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Adam Lofy  Richfield, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T95William Schlitz  Eau Claire, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T95Zach Dybul  Big Bend, Wisconsin+10F+1080   80 
T95Nicholas Amtmann  Nashotah, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Travis Pronschinske  Oconomowoc, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Jakob Schroeckenthaler  Cottage Grove, WI+10F+1080   80 
T95Ben Resnick  Rice Lake, WI+10F *+1080   80 
T109Collin Schroeder  Appleton, WI+11F *+1181   81 
T109Brett Tautges  Germantown, WI+11F+1181   81 
T109Cristian McDonald  Verona, WI+11F+1181   81 
T109Nick Satina  Madison, WI+11F+1181   81 
T109Charles Maleki  Mequon, WI+11F+1181   81 
T109Ben Skogen  Franklin, WI+11F *+1181   81 
T109Ramiro Romo  Burlington, WI+11F *+1181   81 
T116Kyler Royston  Wisconsin Dells, WI+12F+1282   82 
T116Parker Griffin  Amery, WI+12F *+1282   82 
T116Timothy Johnson  Beloit, WI+12F *+1282   82 
T116Michael Kerns  Milwaukee, WI+12F+1282   82 
T116Dan Wells  Mt Horeb, Wisconsin+12F *+1282   82 
T116Tom Halla  Colgate, WI+12F *+1282   82 
T122Jack McKinney  Sussex, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122Ross Mickelson  Rice Lake, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122John Bauer  Reedsburg, WI+13F+1383   83 
T122Joe DuChateau  Fond Du Lac, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122Michael Grossman  South Milwaukee, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122James Gilmore  Middleton, WI+13F+1383   83 
T122Luke Karakas  Green BAy, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122Austin Erickson  Sparta, WI+13F *+1383   83 
T122Robert Kohl  Pewaukee, WI+13F+1383   83 
T131Lucas Ladd  Mequon, WI+14F+1484   84 
T131Matthew Mattioli  Waukesha, WI+14F *+1484   84 
T131Jack Doherty  Pewaukee, WI+14F *+1484   84 
T131Sam Hershoff  Lake Barrington, IL+14F+1484   84 
T131Ricky Kuiper  Racine, WI+14F+1484   84 
T136Zachary Walsh  Elm Grove, WI+15F+1585   85 
T136Mason Gardner  Waupaca, WI+15F *+1585   85 
T136Sam Evenson  Holmen, WI+15F+1585   85 
T136Adam Rosploch  Milwaukee, WI+15F+1585   85 
T136Jory Tess  East Troy, WI+15F+1585   85 
T136Brady Strangstalien  Sun Prairie, WI+15F *+1585   85 
T136Cole Fisher  Eau Claire, WI+15F+1585   85 
T136Eric Christensen  Clear Lake, WI+15F+1585   85 
T144Dave Ullenberg  Brown Deer, WI+16F *+1686   86 
T144Mike Murphy  Minocqua, WI+16F+1686   86 
T146Jack Weisenberger  De Pere, WI+17F+1787   87 
T146Bradley Hill  Menomonee Falls, WI+17F *+1787   87 
T146Peter Hoeppner  Waukesha, WI+17F *+1787   87 
T146Jack Rubo  Minocqua, WI+17F+1787   87 
T150Eric Dankle  Franklin, WI+18F+1888   88 
T150Corey Verseman  McFarland, WI+18F+1888   88 
T152Brian Richards  Amherst Junction, WI+19F *+1989   89 
T152Richie Burke  Milwaukee, WI+19F+1989   89 
154Jeffery Lister  Greendale+20F *+2090   90 
T155Caleb Virnig  Hubertus, WI+21F+2191   91 
T155Riley Eck  Wisconsin Dells, WI+21F+2191   91 

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