A junior-to-be at the University of Wisconsin and a senior-to-be at Sheboygan North High School head the field after the first round of the Wisconsin Public Links Association Ray Fischer Amateur Championship.
Ryan Smith of Eatonton, Georgia, and Mason Schmidtke of Sheboygan each shot 7-under-par 65s to share the lead in the 72-hole tournament.
Graham Moody of Vancouver, Washington, and Tom Boockmeier of Oak Creek—who had nine birdies on his card--were each a shot back with 66s.
The day belonged to two of the youngest competitors in the field.
Not many talented high school golfers in Georgia choose to enroll at the University of Wisconsin.
Smith is one. His opening round included an eagle and six birdies.
“I hit it well today,” Smith said. “I made some putts at the end of the round, so I was happy with the way I played for sure.”
This is the third time Smith has played the Fischer.
“I haven’t played great the last couple of years,” he said.
Smith said family was the reason he chose UW to go to school. His father is a UW graduate and his mother grew up in Dubuque. He has relatives that live in Marinette.
He spends most of the summer here and enjoys playing in the Fischer.
“It’s a fun event,” Smith said. “In college, we usually play courses that are tougher, so this is a fun change of pace.”
Schmidtke is the next rising high school golfer from the state. He is coming off a second-place finish in the WIAA Division 1 State Golf Tournament. His two-round 2-over score at Blackwolf Run in Kohler—his home course—was one shot behind Division 1 champion Will Schiltz of Eau Claire Memorial.
Schmidtke has had success at Riverside the two times he has played it.
He shot a 68 here last year to qualify for the Wisconsin State Amateur after following his older brother, Max—a University of South Dakota golfer—when he played in the Fischer here.
“Coming into the tournament, my putting has really been peaking,” Schmidtke said. “Today, I just really put everything together.”
“I just got in a groove and stayed there.”
He matched Smith’s round of six birdies and an eagle.
Being a 17-year-old playing quality older players doesn’t faze Schmidtke.
“I’ve always gotten along with pretty much everybody,” Schmidtke said. “It’s just a round of golf with some friends. That’s the mindset I have going in, and that’s the way we’ll keep it going down the stretch.”
Janesville’s Sam Van Galder shot a 69 to trail the co-leaders by four strokes.
“I played really good,” the eight-time Janesville City Tournament said. “I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. Just plodded around. Nothing crazy.”
Van Galder said the first round typically has not been his best in previous Fischers. That, combined with his reduced playing schedule, made Friday’s round acceptable.
Two Edgerton golfers were among the leaders.
Joe Forsting shot a 67 and is tied for fifth. Daniel Ozga had seven birdies and finished with a 69 and is tied with Van Galder and others in 12th place.
Course gets praise
Both Smith and Van Galder said the Riverside course was in excellent condition.
“It was there for the taking today,” Van Galder said. “The course was in great shape. It was really firm and dry. Everybody was just hitting the ball a mile out there.
“Even the short hitters were able to score really well.”
Smith also praised the course condition.
“The course was great,” Smith said. “The greens were good, rolling well and the fairways were solid.”
First-round scores can be found at WSGA.org.