Sam Van Galder in Fischer mix

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John Barry
Saturday, June 28, 2014

JANESVILLE—The Ray Fischer State Medal Championship has crowned 14 different champions the last 14 years.

Mark Bemowski is the only golfer the last 15 years to win two Fischer titles.

Don't look for things to change heading into today's 36-hole finale at Riverside.

Jake Wisniewski of Sussex and John Staehler of Caledonia share the lead after 36 holes with 7-under totals of 137. Neither has won the Fischer. Janesville's Sam Van Galder is two strokes back at 139 after a second-round 68.

Thomas Halla of Colgate, who tied for second a year ago, had the low round Saturday with a 7-under 65 and is at 140.

The cut line was 150 after two rounds as the field of 170 was trimmed to 72 for today's final round

Wisniewski started slowly Saturday. The recent UW-Parkside graduate pushed his drive on No. 10 and scrambled for par on the easily accessible par 5 hole. He followed that up with a bogey at No. 11 but birdied 13 and 14 to get to 1-under. Wisniewski shot 35 on his front nine and was 2-under on the back.

“I actually thought the round was going to be a downer because I didn't swing too well early,” Wisniewski said.

“But I got those back-to-back birdies, and that seemed to straighten things out. I played pretty well after that. I gave myself chances for birdie on about every hole on my back nine.”

Staehler also started on the back nine and was even at the turn before going on a birdie binge. He birdied four of the first six holes on the front nine and finished with a 33.

“I was a little shaky out of the start, but fortunately, I made pars instead of bogeys,” Staehler said.

“This course suits my game because I don't hit it very far, but you don't need a lot of length to compete here, and the greens are perfect. Hopefully I can keep it up tomorrow.”

Van Galder has a tournament-best 14 birdies through two rounds but limped into the clubhouse Saturday with three-putt bogeys on 16 and 18. The four-time men's city champion said the goal for the 36-hole finale is simple.

“I think if I come out and shoot back-to-back 68s, I'll have a pretty good chance of winning this thing,” Van Galder said. “I played much better today than I did on Friday, but I've got to eliminate the three-putts.

“I'm just happy to be in the hunt knowing I left some shots out there. The winner of this thing always seems to have one round of 65 or 64, and I know I'm capable of that, too.”

Van Galder was one of three Janesville golfers to make the cut. Matt Behm, the 2006 Fischer champion and the course record-holder, had a 2-under 70 and is five shots back at 142. Janesville's Andy Hagen is also at 142.

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