Jonathan Duggan Jr. did not have the pressure of qualifying for a Wisconsin State Open to worry about. He had checked that off his list of golf goals last year.
The opportunity to play in another one this year, when it is being held essentially in his own backyard? That is something that weighed on Duggan’s mind a bit Thursday.
But he worked overtime to make sure he’ll play in next month’s Open—the 99th edition—at Geneva National Resort & Club.
Duggan shot a round of 7-over 79 in a qualifier at the Janesville Country Club, which was good enough to tie for 14th and get him in a four-man playoff for the final two qualifying spots. There, he parred the par-5 first hole, which was good enough to land a spot in the Open.
“It means a lot,” said Duggan, a 2017 Badger High graduate. “I qualified for the State Open last year, and obviously it was a lot of fun, but this year, since it’s at my home course, it’s extra special. So I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself the whole day.
“It was nerve-racking toward the end, and the wheels were kind of falling off a little bit, but I grinded it out.”
The State Open is Aug. 19-21 in Lake Geneva.
Fifteen players qualified from the Country Club on Thursday, including five-time Janesville men’s city champion Matt Behm.
Behm, now playing out of Valders, shot a 1-over 73 to finish third.
Fitchburg’s Evan Wartgow, a golf professional at Koshkonong Mounds Country Club in Fort Atkinson, had the low round of the day, a 2-under 70.
Other area qualifiers included Whitewater’s Leif Knudsen (76), Walworth’s Brandon Liberman (76) and Fontana’s Jay Nelson (76).
Duggan was joined at 79 and in the playoff for two qualifying spots by Janesville’s Kevin Riley, Belleville’s Craig Hodgson and Kenosha’s Cameron Huss.
Duggan was the only one of the group to reach the green in regulation, and he flirted with a birdie before settling for a tap-in par. Hodgson missed his medium-range par putt, but Huss rattled his home, leaving Riley with a knee-knocker of an attempt that missed to the right.
“I’ll be thinking about that one for a bit, but maybe not more than 20 minutes,” said Riley, who will be back at the Country Club this morning for the first round of the Janesville Men’s City Tournament. “But I am excited to be the first alternate.”
Riley could very well still make the field as an alternate. He said he vastly improved on his score from when he attempted to qualify for the Open in a round at the Janesville Country Club four years ago.
Duggan left Janesville excited for the opportunity to play the Open back at home.
A junior-to-be at the University of Wisconsin, he is part of the Evans Scholars, a scholarship program for high-achieving golf caddies.
“The new (Evans Scholars) house will be done at the end of this month, so we’ll have a new house for this school year. That’ll be a lot of fun,” Duggan said. “I didn’t really know how much it would mean, outside of obviously the money aspect, until I got there. But it’s been great living in a house with a group of scholars where we all have stuff in common.
“It’ll be a little bit of everything (in terms of feelings about playing at the Open at my home course). It’ll be fun to drive five minutes, and there I am.”
99th Morgan Stanley Wisconsin State Open Qualifer
At Janesville Country Club (72)ThursdayQualifiers (top 15)Evan Wartgow, Fitchburg, 70; Cody Strang, Sun Prairie, 72; Matt Behm, Valders, 73; Derick Disch, Brookfield, 74; Leif Knudsen, Whitewater, 76; Sam Schlosser, West Bend, 76; Brandon Liberman, Walworth, 76; Jay Nelson, Fontana, 76; Keith Buntrock, Franklin 77; Lyle Barton, Montello, 77; Keith Dory, West Memphis, Ark., 77; Donnie Moline, Twin Lakes, 77; Eric Peter, Elm Grove, 78; Jonathan Duggan Jr., Lake Geneva, 79; Cameron Huss, Kenosha, 79
Alternates (three, in order)Kevin Riley, Janesville, 79; Craig Hodgson, Belleville, 79; Brady Strangstalien, Sun Prairie, 80