Van Galder wins third city title after controversial finish
JANESVILLE The 18th hole in the Championship Flight of the Janesville Men's City Tournament on Sunday would've made for a beautiful 30-minute television drama.
There were two main characters, a lucky break, several pressure moments, a triumphant victory and, finally, controversy.
Except the story won't be continued next week.
When all the dust had settled in a bizarre day at the Janesville Country Club, Sam Van Galder stood as the champion for his third City Tournament title.
Van Galder sank a clutch six-footer for par on the 18th to finish with a three-round total of 2-under par 213, a shot better than Matt Behm's 1-under 214.
But after sinking that putt, Van Galder was informed by Behm that he had broken the rules on his previous putt and should be penalized.
Behm's contention was that while lining up his first putt on the 18th—a long, snaking putt up a ridge to a back pin placement—Van Galder inadvertently grounded his putter in his line, an infraction that would've been a two-shot penalty and made Behm the winner.
Van Galder wasn't informed of this until after he sank his winning par putt, and his triumphant smile quickly turned into confusion and anger. Golfing code says a player admits an infraction on himself if nobody else saw it, but Van Galder was certain he hadn't broken the rules.
After it had been determined that Van Galder wasn't in violation and he was the winner, he was still bewildered why Behm had accused him of the infraction.
"(Behm) claims I touched my line with my putter, but I was left of my line," Van Galder said. "And even (then), the matter of the fact (is) he should've said something right that moment. He shouldn't have waited.
"I'm over it. I was a little hot there for a second. This is the Janesville City (Tournament). This isn't The Masters."
According to tournament co-directors Steve Loomis and Lance Marting, Behm did approach them to say Van Galder had committed the infraction after the first putt and before the second, but they couldn't confirm what they didn't see.
"I was not in a position to see it, nor was (Loomis)," Marting confirmed.
At that point, it was apparently decided that Behm should wait until after Van Galder attempted his tournament-winning putt to say anything.
"He walked up, and he mentioned it to us," Loomis said. "We walked over, and we agreed at that point in time, as Sam was lining up his putt, it wouldn't be a great time to walk down there and tell him that."
In the end, neither the tournament officials, or fellow group-playing partner Sean Halvorson could fairly accuse Van Galder of the infraction, and that was that.
After the round, Behm was adamant that he wasn't trying to win what would've been his fifth City Tournament title on a technicality, but he was certain that Van Galder broke the rules.
"If we had anybody that videotaped this final, which somebody probably did that's a member of the Country Club, and they're probably not gonna share it because it's too late anyway, he 100 percent touched it," Behm said.
"I've become a man at the golf course. Since 16, 17 (years old), and now I'm 33, I've learned all of life's lessons and all the rules of golf through golf. So I know what the laws are and what the rules are and how they can really burn you in this game, and it's really hard."
Van Galder may well have lost the tournament anyway if not for a fortuitous bounce when his drive on the 18th was hooking perilously close to the out-of-bounds markers but smacked a tree and caromed back into the fairway.
Behm had a birdie chance from about 10 feet to tie for the lead but missed it low and to the left to set up Van Galder for the winner.
Van Galder had a one-shot lead entering the final round that stretched to five through 10 holes after Behm bogeyed three of his first five. Behm shaved the lead to two, however, but Van Galder drained a critical 15-foot par saver on the par-3 16th.
Behm cut it down to one with a birdie on the 17th before the wild final hole.
"I wanted to win it bad," Van Galder said. "I've been playing pretty solid. I would've been pretty devastated if I let it slip away."
Janesville Men's City Tournament final results
At The Janesville Country Club
213—Sam Van Galder, 69-71-73
214—Matt Behm, 69-72-73
222—Aaron Rondon, 75-74-73
224—Bobby Kennedy, 76-71-77, Sean Halvorson, 77-68-79.
225—Michael Oellerich, 72-75-78.
227—Charlie Roherty, 78-77-72.
229—Ryan Coffey, 73-77-79; William Pappas, 74-74-81
231—Dustin Richards, 73-79-79.
233—Aaron Coffey, 73-78-82.
234—Ryne Clatworthy, 75-79-80; Jordan Brovick, 74-81-79.
235—Andrew Tearman, 80-78-77.
236—Greg Ruef, 76-78-80
238—Rob Ackerman, 80-77-81.
239—Mark Thomsen, 81-78-80; Taylor Braun, 74-82-83; Peyton Graham, 72-81-86
240—Jordan Gagg, 78-83-79
241—Jerry Rabbach, 78-80-83
243—Jon Phillips, 79-84-80.
244—Jim Leute, 75-84-85
248—Bill Kennedy, 79-88-81
249—Jay Naatz, 83-81-85
258—Michael Kletzien, 83-88-87
WD—Jake Downing, Eric Scherdell
234—*Mike Lansing, 69-86-79; Matt Kempfer, 76-77-81.
239—Chad Sullivan, 81-80-78; Rick Berry, 78-81-80.
240—Steve Schutz, 82-77-81; King Clark, 77-78-85.
242—Andrew Siefert, 83-76-83.
243—Gregory Wagner, 79-82-82.
246—David Distefano, 84-80-82; Gary Merk, 80-81-85.
247—Shannon Dooley, 81-86-80; Gary Polglaze Jr., 87-73-87.
248—Al Herbst, 82-85-81.
249—Mike Johnson, 79-89-81; Dale Bladorn, 86-80-83; James Mead, 77-85-87.
250—Gary Neumueller, 80-82-88; Jake Hassinger, 75-86-89.
252—Nolan Moran, 81-84-87.
258—Curt Goodwick, 81-87-90.
267—Eric Hoium, 91-86-90.
241—Benjamin Dewitt, 78-83-80.
242—Brent Corey, 78-83-81.
243—Jeff Adams, 85-79-79; Kevin Riley, 77-79-87; Dave Diece, 79-78-86.
245—John Hill, 79-77-89.
246—Greg Mullen, 77-82-87.
247—Efren Blanca, 83-77-87.
249—Jon Moldenhauer, 78-85-86.
250—Joe Nemeth, 84-79-87.
252—Steve Wagner, 78-84-90.
254—Ryan Luebke, 78-85-91.
255—Wayne Hansen, 79-81-95.
256—Steve Thompson, 86-84-86; Dave Degarmo, 80-82-94.
258—Joe Kennedy, 88-79-91.
260—Kevin Mickelson, 82-87-91.
261—Nick Klieforth, 85-90-86; Steve Thurner, 84-93-84.
262—Shawn Gagg, 85-83-94.
267—Lee Bream, 90-93-84.
238—Jose Perez, 78-79-81.
245—Bryan Thorson, 83-77-85; Tom Collins, 79-82-84.
247—Joel Bailey, 86-82-79.
250—Randy Krueger, 85-74-91.
252—Eric Scherdell, 79-79-94.
255—Dan Hermanson, 84-84-87.
256—David Hulbregtse, 92-80-84.
257—Ned Moser, 91-81-85.
259—Todd Sitter, 83-91-85.
260—Greg Galvan, 80-88-92.
262—Jamie Orr, 87-91-84.
264—Timm Millis, 90-88-86.
265—Andrew Schoeder, 85-90-90.
266—Chad Flanders, 88-89-89.
269—Jeff DeGarmo, 90-91-88.
274—Shawn Uschan, 90-89-95.
297—Stephen Monroe, 98-96-103.