(Ben Rudolph of Premier Golf & Utility Vehicles and Jamie Christianson)
A recent trip back home was the perfect recipe to put Jamie Christianson in the right frame of mind to win his first Wisconsin PGA Professional Championship on Tuesday. The Park Falls, Wisconsin native reflected on a stop at his childhood home course last week, and how it impacted his most important playing accomplishment to date.
“It had been a long time, 17 years probably since I had been there,” Christianson said. “It felt good to be home, the members and the golfers there helped me grow up. It brought me back to my roots. It kind was like a stress release from my body to play those holes again.”
With so many legends in golf being quoted as saying the mental side of the game is the overwhelming key to playing well, it was no wonder that Christianson found his way to the top of the leaderboard this week.
However, the journey to the victory on Tuesday was nothing but easy. Christianson would enter the final round one shot behind Jeff Kaiser of the TaylorMade Player Development Center and just one shot ahead of Michael Crowley of Morningstar GC.
The leaderboard would quickly shift after just one hole of play as both Christianson and Kaiser would open with double bogeys, while Crowley would make birdie. The stumble would actually play into Christianson’s hands as he moved into chaser mode.
“I play better chasing, than I do leading,” Christianson said. “It allows me to play a little freer and aggressive.”
Right away he would bounce back with a birdie on no. 2 to tie Crowley. Christianson would then go on a run of five pars while both Kaiser and Crowley would make a handful of birdies and bogeys during the same stretch.
After birdies by both Christianson and Crowley on the short par-4 8th, Crowley would assume the lead by one shot. Christianson and Kaiser would sit just one shot back at 2-under-par overall.
With the risk-reward par-5 9th up next, a key swing in the round was on deck. Christianson would find the fairway and then knock on a 3-wood to reach the green in two. He’d hit a great lag putt from 40 feet and make a key birdie.
Both Kaiser and Crowley were unable to execute the same plan and had to walk away with bogey. At the turn Christianson would hold a one stroke lead over Crowley and be two shots up over Kaiser and Erik Stenseth from University Ridge GC.
A couple missteps by Christianson on both no. 10 and 12 would result in bogeys, however a huge eagle on the 514-yard par-5 11th would help keep the ship steady.
“I hit a five-iron to 35 feet and hit a great putt,” Christianson said. “I was looking to make four and got a three. It was a big bonus. That eagle really kept me in the back nine.”
During that timeframe he’d see bogeys out of Kaiser on no. 10 and Crowley on no. 12.
The perceived breathing room he had earned would quickly slip away as one group ahead Stenseth would be making a charge.
The UW-Eau Claire graduate would knock it to 4-feet on the par-3 14th and roll in it for birdie. He’d then back it up with a chip-in birdie on the par-5 15th.
“I hit my irons good all day,” Stenseth said. “At that point I had a feeling, I knew I was up there.”
All of a sudden Stenseth and Christianson were tied with three to play.
Christianson however was unaware of the action ahead of him as he stuck to his game plan and didn’t peek at the leaderboard.
“Crowley was there and he was making some great up and downs to stay near me,” Christianson said. “I didn’t look at the leaderboard so I was unaware of Erik. I knew if I did I’d back off a bit”
With Christianson playing the par-4 16th, Stenseth would be ahead playing the intimidating par-3 17th.
Stenseth would succumb to curiosity and take a look at the leaderboard on no. 17 tee. Shortly after, he’d pull his tee shot into the left rough and with the hole location lurking near the water he’d be unable to get up and down for par.
Just across the pond Christianson would grab ahold of the lead for good. From 120 yards out he’d stick it to five feet and make birdie.
After a par-par finish Christianson had earned himself the $4,500 first place prize check and another trip to the PGA Professional Championship. As the only player to break par on both days, his 4-under-par 140 total would give him a two-shot win over Stenseth. Finishing three shots back was Kaiser and Crowley.
The foursome will represent the Wisconsin Section next April at the 2023 PGA Professional Championship at Santa Ana and Twin Warriors Golf Clubs in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
After spending time in Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas the Horseshoe Bay GC Head PGA Professional is happy to be back home. During his acceptance speech he credited several other Wisconsin PGA professionals for helping to provide the motivation to play well.
“This is pretty big,” Christianson said. “To beat the class of players we have, it means you are the best player for that Section for that year, outside the points list. I came close in Texas a few times, but to come home and win it in your home state is pretty special.”
The WPGA would like to thank both our presenting and supporting sponsors of the 2022 WPGA Professional Championship. With their help and support the the WPGA was able to present a top notch championship once again. A great deal of gratitude goes out to all the company representatives that made it out to the event and lent a helping hand.
We would also like to convey our gratitude to our host site The Legend at Bergamont. The course held up fantastic to the unrelenting rain leading up the event and the staff was able to provide all the support that was needed to execute the championship.