The members and regular customers at Morningstar GC say it rarely is calm at the Waukesha based golf course. On Monday the players in the Wisconsin Senior PGA Professional Championship experienced one of those rare days and it was a green light to go low in round one. All told, seven players or 1/3 of the field was able to break par, and set the stage for a final round shootout on Tuesday.
That shootout would never quite materialize as the wind would kick up and it would turn into a battle to break par on day two. The tougher scoring conditions however did not dampen the excitement, as another close contest played out.
Just one day earlier the Wisconsin Assistant PGA Professional Championship featured a come from behind winner that concluded with a playoff birdie. Amazingly a similar storyline would be written.
The duo of Michael Crowley and John Freeman would start out the day with a two-stroke advantage over Kurt Mantyla and Jim Schuman. Over the course of the first nine holes Freeman and Crowley would continue to hold the top spots on the board. As they made the turn Freeman would hold a two stroke lead over Crowley, and it would seem like a two-horse race.
The situation would be short lived though as both Mantyla and Schuman would enter the mix on the back nine. After an even-par front nine Schuman would then get hot and birdie no. 11, 12 and 13, to climb within one of Freeman. As quickly as he entered the fray, he would depart just as quickly. With double bogeys on no. 14 and 16, Schuman would see his hopes fade for a fifth straight title.
For Mantyla it was a slow and steady climb to catch the two leaders. The 2019 WPGA Match Play Champion’s day was a model of consistency. His front nine featured no bogeys and no birdies, just nine pars. The bogey-free stretch would continue throughout the back nine, but he also would add in three birdies, to close with a 3-under-par 69. His 6-under-par 138 total was exactly what it took to win the Assistants Championship the day before.
As Mantyla and Schuman were making their run at the lead, both Freeman and Crowley would hold steady and stay in the mix. There were bogeys and there were birdies, but when the time came to deliver they each would card a birdie on the closing par-5 18th. The clutch play on the final hole would help both of them tie Mantyla and force a playoff for the title.
With extra golf on tap the trio would head to the always interesting par-5 1st. The reachable par-5 gave every player a chance to make eagle. However, all that would be needed would be a big playoff birdie. After two strokes all three players would find themselves in a great position to make birdie. Mantyla would be in the front left bunker, Freeman would be just short of the green, and Crowley would have a long eagle putt. Playing first Mantyla would put the pressure on as he’d knock his bunker shot to 6 feet. With a chance to match, both Freeman and Crowley would misjudge their third shots and end up with around fifteen feet for birdie. The speed and break on each putt just didn’t match up right, and each would miss their opportunity to make four. The misses left the door wide open for Mantyla, and he would take advantage by knocking in his birdie for the win.
Only one winner was crowned on Tuesday, but all three were able to earn a chance to play in the National Senior PGA Professional Championship in Florida in October.
For Mantyla the day also helped him take control of first place in the WPGA Senior Player of the Year race over Jim Schuman.
The WPGA would like to thank Cadillac, Hornung’s Golf Products, The PGA Tour, John Deere and The Golf Channel for their great support of the Wisconsin Senior PGA Professional Championship.
In addition the Section would like to express our appreciation to Morningstar GC for being a gracious host.