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Brookfield's Kyle Henning wins Fischer golf tournament

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staff, Gazette
July 1, 2013

— Kyle Henning barely picked up a club during his 90-minute wait.

The Brookfield golfer fired an 8-under-par 64 in the final round of the Ray Fischer State Medal Play Championship at Riverside Golf Course on Sunday. But he teed off so far ahead of the second-round leaders that he had time to kill before he'd find out if the best round of the week was good enough to win or force a playoff.

Henning's father, Bruce, was still out on the course, so Kyle spent much of the time cruising around in his father's cart.

"I just went out and found him," he said. "I didn't really want to walk with the leaders. I saw them on 14, but then found my dad on seven and hooked up with him.

"I hit a couple putts (during the down time), but my swing was feeling good. I didn't want to mess with it."

Later, Henning watched on 18 as second-round leaders Tom Halla and Rob Jacobsen each made par to shoot 70 and also finish at 9 under, forcing a three-man playoff.

Henning stepped up to the 10th tee—the first playoff hole—with nary a warmup and drove his ball down the left side of the fairway. His second shot at the par-5 hole strayed left, barely missing the limb of the tree, but settled about 35 feet left of the pin.

"I already had three eagles," Henning said with a smile when asked if the putt appeared makeable.

With much of the Fischer field watching, Henning made it four.

The putt broke to the right and found nothing but the bottom of the cup, and when Jacobsen missed his eagle attempt from nearly the same point on the green, Henning was the champion.

"This has got to be the biggest (victory of my career)," said Henning, who will be a senior at Valparaiso and has one college title under his belt. "I'm definitely starting to develop a pretty consistent game, which is exciting."

That Henning was even part of the playoff was astounding.

He was tied for second place after Friday's first round, but shot a 2-over-par 74 on Saturday to sit six strokes off the lead.

On the drive to the course Sunday, he and Bruce talked strategy—about being aggressive, but not stupid. The result was a stupid-low round, just two shots off the course record.

"I got off to a hot start. I was 6 under through seven," Henning said. "I birdied two, eagled four, eagled six and birdied seven."

But Henning was on No. 13 when the magnitude of his final round truly hit him.

He had just driven his tee shot on the par-4 hole to within 40 yards of the green and pitched in for his third eagle of the final round.

"That's just when I looked to everyone in my group and I told them, ‘This is just ridiculous,'" Henning said.

Henning posted his total of 9 under, then headed back out to the course. He found the leaders on No. 14, and Halla and Jacobsen each birdied the par-5 hole to move to 9 and 10 under, respectively.

"I was just hoping to get in a playoff," Henning said.

Halla slept on the lead when second-round play was suspended due to darkness after a five-hour rain delay.

The Colgate resident had a decent look at eagle on 14, but settled for birdie, then bogeyed 15 and birdied 17 to get into the playoff.

"I had that putt for eagle and thought I was going to go to 10 (under)," Halla said. "I just couldn't get out of my way there."

"I didn't see (Henning) making a fourth eagle on the day. Obviously the stars were aligned for him."

Halla, who has known Henning his whole life, pushed his second shot of the playoff hole far to the right, but made a remarkable recovery shot to have a decent look at birdie. But he never got that chance.

Jacobsen, who plays for the University of Wisconsin, held the outright lead until No. 17, where he drove his tee shot into the trees on the right and settled for a bogey that dropped him back to 9 under. He also missed a tap-in birdie on No. 13 and had a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 1 lip out to start his day.

"I just had a couple dumb mistakes. I hit the ball real well," Jacobsen said. "I didn't capitalize on some of the holes that weren't very hard. I played well, so I can't be too upset, but it sucks to lose like that."

Jacobsen's eagle putt on the first playoff hole started on the correct line, but lost its pace and missed to the right.

Henning celebrated with his father, who carried his bag for the playoff hole.

"It was just unbelievable—four eagles in 19 holes," Henning said. "It was just a ridiculous, a fairy-tale day."

Henning gets hand from his dad in playoff

When Bruce Henning heard that his son was 6 under through the first 7 holes on Sunday, he wanted to drop his clubs, quit his own round and go join up for the wild ride.

When the final round of the Ray Fischer State Medal Play Championship concluded its 54th hole of regulation, Henning strapped Kyle Henning's bag of clubs to his back, quickly shifting into caddie mode for the three-man playoff.

He helped line up the stunning 35-foot eagle putt on the first playoff hole, then back at the Riverside Golf Course clubhouse reflected on how far his son has come in five years.

"It was a bummer to miss (his 64)," Bruce said. "But it was fun to be on his bag for the last hole.

"His maturation rate and where he's heading has been pretty neat. He was 4-foot-nothing when he was 17 and couldn't get a college to look at him. Valparaiso had just started their golf program back up … and took a chance on him. It's been a great match for him."

Bruce Henning shot 74 on the final day to finish at 6 over in a tie for 53rd place.

In another twist, father and son lost in a playoff to Tom Halla—who was part of Sunday's three-man playoff—and his partner at the Billy Sixty Best Ball Championship last year.

"It's been cool as a dad who's never been able to do this," Bruce said. "I've played in a lot of these and never gotten this close.

"He's a very quiet, unassuming kid, and it's really neat to see him progress like this. He's just starting to play against competition like this now. This is one of the tournaments you want to win—this, the State Am, the State Match Play and the State Open."

Kyle Henning had shot one round of 64 before, but his 8-under score is his best relative to par.

He'll play in the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Lorton, Va., July 15-20.

Behm leads Janesville pack

Matt Behm shot a final-round 70 to finish 5 under for the tournament to tie for seventh. It was the top finish by a Janesville golfer.

Sam Van Galder also shot 70 to finish at 1 under in a tie for 17th.

Statistically speaking

Riverside surrended just seven eagles during the final round, and Kyle Henning made three of them. His fourth, at the first playoff hole, didn't count in the official statistics.

The 454-yard 16th hole was the tournament's toughest, playing nearly half of a stroke above par. The par-5 sixth was the easiest, playing more than a quarter-stroke under par on average.


 
 

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