JANESVILLE

The leaderboard after the first round of the Ray Fischer Amateur Championship is littered with the usual suspects.

The field--trimmed a bit due to COVID-19 concerns--dodged raindrops and played through a couple delays on the first day at Riverside Golf Course.

When the dust settled, the top 10 included three past champions, several other usual Fischer contenders and a couple Riverside Golf Course record holders.

Eau Claire's Matt Tolan, who finished second at the Fischer a year ago, bogeyed his first hole at Riverside on Friday. But he went the rest of the way without a hiccup and turned in a round of 6-under 66 to lead a field of many of the state's best amateur golfers.

He will take a one-stroke lead into the second round at Riverside on Saturday.

"It was a really solid round and a good start to the tournament. I made a lot of putts I needed to make to keep the momentum going," Tolan said. "I got a little bit of a wakeup call. I hit my drive in the trees on No. 1 and then hit it in the trees again on 2. I'm like, 'OK, now let's start playing some golf.'

"Then on No. 4, I hit a hybrid to about a foot or a foot and a half for eagle. That's when the momentum started."

Tolan, who plays for the University of South Dakota and won the State Amateur Championship in 2017, posted three birdies in a row at Nos. 6-8 to vault up the leaderboard. He posted his 66 early in the afternoon, and it held up heading into the second day.

The top 60 golfers and ties will make the cut after Saturday's second round and play 36 holes to conclude the tournament Sunday.

Tolan certainly recognizes many of the names around him in the top 20.

He was in the final group of the Fischer on Sunday a year ago with Owen Butler and Jack Schultz. Butler, from Stoughton and a Milton High graduate, beat Tolan by three strokes to win last year and shot 68 on Friday to sit tied for sixth. Schultz, who finished third a year ago after winning the 2017 and 2018 Fischer tournaments, also shot 68.

Schultz is part of a trio of golfers who own the Riverside course record with rounds of 10-under 62. 

Former Janesville resident Matt Behm, who originally set the record when he won the Fischer in 2006, played the back nine in 4-under 32 to join Butler, Schultz and Green Bay's Jed Baranczyk at 4 under.

The other course record holder is Onalaska's Ben Skogen, who shot 70 in the first round.

There were four players who came in at 5-under 67, including Ricky Kuiper. The Racine golfer took third place in the Fischer in 2018 and was in the top 20 again last year.

Milwaukee's Nick Nelson birdied five of his final six holes to join the fray at 67. Nelson had top-six finishes in the Fischer in both 2014 and 2016.

Not to be overshadowed, there are a couple relative newcomers tied for second at 67.

Big Bend's Zach Dybul and New Berlin's Dylan Karvala each carded rounds of 67 in some of the earliest tee times Friday--meaning they had to contend with heavy rain at times.

Dybul, who went to Mukwonago High, is more known athletically in track and field, where he competed in 2019 as a high jumper for the University of Wisconsin.

Karvala is a golfer at Concordia University Wisconsin. He said his 67, which included a three-putt bogey on his final hole, was by far his career-best round.

"I just found a rhythm out there; I don't know how to describe it, really," said Karvala, who failed to make the cut either of the last two years at the Fischer. "This was a huge step up. The rain kind of helped soften the greens, and I got away with a lot more out there.

"Seventy-three, 72, I think was my career low before. ... This past week, I was randomly just playing with one of my buddies and randomly found something in my swing. Luckily, it transitioned to here."

Tom Halla, of Colgate, who finished second in the Fischer in 2016 and fourth in 2014, is one of seven golfers tied for 10th after shooting a 69.

Romo watch

Burlington native, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and now CBS NFL analyst Tony Romo birdied his first hole Friday but settled for an even-par 72.

Romo, who finished seventh in the tournament a year ago, is tied for 38th.

Other local notables

Matt Zimmerman, a 2018 Janesville Parker graduate, opened with a 70 and is tied for 17th.

Janesville's Kevin Riley and 2019 Edgerton High graduate Joe Forsting joined Romo at even par.

Sam Van Galder, a six-time Janesville men's city tournament champion, played in the final group and narrowly got his last hole in before dark. He shot 73.

Also at 73 were Edgerton's Daniel Ozga, Andrew Morrison and Kyle Wille, as well as Beloit's Nick Hagen.

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