Write-up provided by Rick Pledl – firstname.lastname@example.org
At the same time his brother-in-law Steve Stricker was making the final selections for the Ryder Cup team he will lead this month, Mario Tiziani made his own history Wednesday at the Wisconsin State Senior Open.
Tiziani, who at 51 made his debut appearance in the State Senior Open this week at Blackhawk CC in Madison, won the title in a five-hole sudden-death playoff over Kurt Mantyla, a PGA professional from Wauwatosa.
Tiziani, who formerly qualified for the PGA Tour and also won the 2002 Wisconsin State Open, admitted this win was a big deal, in part because he’s just getting back into tournament golf.
“It means a lot to win in my home state,” he said. “I have not played the State Senior Open before. I haven’t played competitive golf in about 10 years, and I just got back into it. This about my fifth tournament this year.”
Both players finished at 3-under 141 – Tiziani on rounds of 73-68 and Mantyla on rounds of 68-73.
Tiziani’s march to the championship began a couple hours before the playoff, right about the time he was making the turn at Blackhawk CC.
After opening with his 73 Tuesday, and going 1-over on the front nine Wednesday, Tiziani turned it on over his final nine holes of regulation play. Tiziani made six birdies and a bogey on the back nine to shoot 68.
“I had a slow start today, but I got hot on the back nine,” Tiziani said.
That looked like it would be good for second place, however, because through 33 holes of the tournament Mantyla was rolling along at 8-under-par. But any momentum Mantyla had, came to a screeching halt on his last three holes of regulation, where he went 5-over.
Mantyla’s struggles began on the par-3 16th hole, where a short par putt would not drop, leading to a bogey.
On the next hole, the narrow par-4 17th, Mantyla hit the fairway off the tee, but his second shot wouldn’t be as lucky as it would roll out of bounds on the left side. Eventually the Naga-Waukee GC PGA Teaching Professional would card a triple-bogey 7.
With one last chance to close it out on no. 18, the win in regulation was just not meant to be for Mantyla. A slick downhill putt for birdie would catch a slope near the hole and lead to a three-putt bogey.
“Kurt gave me a lifeline there,” Tiziani said. “I mean, I feel bad for him, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity in the playoff.”
The playoff began on Blackhawk’s par-5 13th hole, where both players made birdie. They halved the next three holes with pars, which brought them back to the 13th hole a final time.
Tiziani and Mantyla both hit the right side of the fairway, and they faced similar approach shots from about 240 yards. Tiziani’s shot found a patch of rough between the greenside bunker and the putting surface.
But Mantyla, who played first, pulled his second shot under a large tree left of the green. His third shot would then find the greenside bunker.
With Mantyla facing a 5-foot par putt, Tiziani rolled in his birdie from about 6 feet away to win the tournament.
Tiziani, a native of Madison who works in sports management – represents Stricker, among others – resides now in the Twin Cities. In early June the former University of Wisconsin golfer would also pull off the same feat at the Minnesota Senior Open.
However, this victory was extra special as it gave him the rare chance to win it in front of his parents, Bobbie and Dennis Tiziani. The congratulatory hug and kiss from Mom was affirmation of a job well done.
The defending champion, Michael Crowley of Fox Point, finished third at 2-under-par on rounds of 70-72.
Jason Summers of Richfield finished as the low amateur at 1-under-par (70-73).
A big thank you goes out to the three supporting partners of the Wisconsin State Senior Open. Throughout the entire year The Suter Ward Group at Morgan Stanley, Sentry, and TaylorMade Golf, have helped to enhance the entire Wisconsin State Open Series. Their contributions are greatly appreciated.
The Wisconsin PGA would also like to express our appreciation to the staff and members at Blackhawk CC. A longtime Wisconsin PGA host site, the club once again rolled out great playing conditions, which gave all the participants a top notch experience.