Johnson’s late charge, 5-under 67 lead to a one-stroke victory
In what could be classified as a bizarre Sunday at the Ray Fischer State Medal Play Championship here at Riverside Golf Course, a day that included a 1-hour, 20-minute weather delay in the morning, Johnson emerged victorious with nary a peep.
That’s because nobody knew that Johnson, a 19-year old Oconomowoc High School graduate, was winning the tournament until he actually won courtesy of a final-round 5-under par 67.
Johnson himself was completely oblivious to where he was in relation to other golfers coming down the stretch.
“I had no idea where I stood, so all the way through I just kept trying to make as many birdies as I could,” he said.
It proved to be enough, as Johnson finished with a 72-hole score of 17-under 271, one shot clear of Beaver Dam’s Austin Ehlenfeldt.
Janesville’s Matt Behm took third alone at 15-under 273, Mequon’s Andy Hansen and Kenosha’s Jordan Elsen tied for fourth at 14-under 273 and Germantown’s Michael McDonald took sixth with a 13-under 275.
“This is my first big amateur tournament that I’ve won,” said Johnson, who will attend Brevard Community College in Florida this fall and hopes to play at the Division 1 level someday.
“It’s just really a good one to win.”
And quite a surprise.
The scene Sunday revolved around the final threesome of Behm, Ehlenfeldt and McDonald, who entered Sunday in a three-way tie for first. Thanks to a morning 68, McDonald held a one shot lead over Ehlenfeldt and a two-shot advantage on Johnson, Behm and Hansen entering the final round.
Ehlenfeldt, Behm and McDonald remained tight all day, and it seemed a foregone conclusion that the winner would emerge from that group. All three shot 34 on the front nine of the final round, with McDonald’s chip-in for birdie on the par-4 ninth putting him one ahead of Ehlenfeldt and two up on Behm.
Meanwhile, up ahead Johnson just kept making birdies. He was 5-under on the par 5s for his final round, including an eagle on the 10th when he hit his second shot to six feet and sank the uphill putt. His only bogey came on the 18th; one of just four bogeys Johnson made the entire weekend.
“It’s just make as many birdies as you can, and I never let up,” Johnson said. “I kept firing at pins all the way through.”
But it wasn’t Johnson’s score that confounded the threesome of Ehlenfeldt, Behm and McDonald. It was that they didn’t even know Johnson’s score.
After all three birdied the 10th, they settled into a kind of stalemate. Ehlenfeldt’s long birdie putt on the par-4 11th and Behm’s birdie on the par-5 14th—he had a good look at eagle but missed—were the only birdies made by the threesome the rest of the way.
Behm never made a serious move because of a disappointing day with the putter.
“I had a lot of chances, just my putter didn’t get it done,” he said. “It was the putter today, for me.”
McDonald shot himself out of the tournament with a double bogey on the par-4 16th when he flew the ball over the green from 105 yards with his third shot.
“It was right at (the flag) the whole time, it just went a little long, and that was not the spot to be,” he said of the shot that cost him a chance to win.
But Ehlenfeldt held steady. After a bogey on the par-4 13th, he cruised in with five straight pars and thought he had won the tournament.
Unfortunately, he didn’t know he was one stroke behind Johnson.
“I had no idea that he was in the hunt right at the end,” admitted Ehlenfeldt, who said he’d have been more aggressive at the short par-4 17th if he knew he needed a birdie. “I know he played well the third round, and I knew he’d have a shot.
“I heard he was playing well, but I didn’t know he was ahead of me by one. That’s the way it is.”
Ehlenfeldt’s long birdie putts on both the 17th and the par-4 18th were close, with his putt on the 18th missing by no more than a half-inch. It
wasn’t until after he tapped in for par that he found out he needed that birdie putt to fall to get into a playoff with Johnson.
“I play the golf course when I play golf,” said Ehlenfeldt, who has one year of eligibility remaining at UW-Green Bay. “I try not to play other players. (Johnson) one-upped me this week, and I’m proud of him.”
Other Janesville golfers to make the cut were Mike Hesselman and Sam Van Galder, who tied for 19th at 3-under 285, as well as Ryan Coffey (298, tied for 62nd) and Aaron Coffey (314, 78th).
Also of note, Burlington native and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo finished in 10th place alone at 9-under 279. He entered Sunday four shots off the lead and carded a 4-under 68 and an even-par 72 in his two rounds on Sunday.