The 2022 National Car Rental Wisconsin Assistant PGA Professional Championship came to a close just in the nick of time on Monday. With severe weather approaching the last putt would be holed and a champion crowned.
The field was made up of twenty-five WPGA professionals. Over the course of their 36-hole day they would face very humid and breezy conditions. In addition to navigating the weather the participants would be faced with learning the nuances of the always fun and challenging Wausau CC layout.
Setting the pace in the first round of play was the duo of Austin Barr and Josh Grisa. Each player would card an even-par 71 to grab a share of the lead. Just one shot back was a trio of formidable players in Andy Hansen, David Bach and Blake Jens.
The tightly packed leaderboard would gradually go away. A two-horse race would then develop as the players settled into their second round. Finding their groove jumping into that two-horse race was the duo of Barr and Bach.
Barr, an assistant professional at Hawk’s View GC, would make the first move. After playing his first five holes at even-par he’d rattle off five birdies over a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round. At that point he would hold a four-stroke lead over Bach. With Bach playing in the group in front of Barr the 2-time WPGA assistant player of the year would have to rely on the leaderboard to know where he stood.
Barr however could not keep the momentum going and he would bogey three of his next four holes. At the same time Bach would go birdie-birdie on no. 14 and 15. A solid twenty-foot birdie putt would find the cup on no. 14 and on no. 15 he would hit the green in two, leading to a two-putt birdie.
“Fourteen I was happy to get that one back, after a bad bogey in the first round,” Bach said. “I was rolling it decent, I actually was making more longer putts than five footers.
The back-to-back birdies combined with Barr’s bogeys would give Bach his first lead of the tournament. Barr however was not done, as a two-shot swing would see him make birdie on the par-3 17th, while just ahead Bach would lose his drive right and bogey the par-4 18th. With only two holes left to play Barr had reclaimed the lead by one.
After losing out on winning the championship in a playoff last year, Bach was determined to do everything in his power to find redemption. His final hole of play would be the reachable par-5 2nd. The UW-Stout graduate would buckle down and almost hit the green in two. His ball would roll just over, leaving him ten yards from the hole. With the tournament on the line Bach would deliver a clutch chip-in for eagle.
“I had to carry it about five yards and just let it roll out,” Bach said. “It came out a little hot but it hit the pin and went in.”
For Bach the win ranks right up there in his golfing accomplishments, and in his words helped to take the monkey off his back.
“Little bit of redemption from last year,” Bach said. “Yeah, I mean I’ve won player of the year two of the past three years and I had yet to win an individual stroke play event.”
For Barr not all was lost as he and Bach claimed the two spots up for grabs to the National Assistant PGA Professional Championship in November.
A big thank you goes out to National Car Rental, Hornung’s Golf Products, Cleveland/Srixon/XXIO/Asics for their support of the WPGA Assistant Professional Championship.
The WPGA would also like to recognize and thank Wausau CC for being a great host site.