Valparaiso men’s golf alum Kyle Henning captured the 95th annual Wisconsin State Open earlier this week at University Ridge G.C. in Madison in dramatic fashion, rallying from three shots down with three holes to play to win by one stroke.
“This win means so much to me because it allows me to continue chasing my dream of playing professional golf,” said Henning. “It raised some funds to help pay for qualifying school this fall, and that’s the best way to attempt to get to the next level – playing on the Web.com Tour. It was also a cool experience to share with my dad, who caddied for me all week.”
Normally a 72-hole event, weather delays on Monday and Tuesday forced the three-day tournament to be shortened to 54 holes. Henning found himself in the mix after shooting matching 68s in each of the first two rounds, leaving himself just one stroke off the lead with now just 18 holes to play.
The 2014 Valpo alum, who holds three of the top-10 single-season scoring averages in program history and twice earned All-Horizon League honors, struggled on the front nine in the final round, making the turn at one-over for the round despite an eagle at no. 2. A birdie on no. 14 and pars on the other five of the first six holes of the back nine settled things down, leaving Henning three back with three to play.
But Henning stepped up in the clutch, draining a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th to close within one shot as then-leader Andy Buege made par. Buege then bogeyed each of the final two holes to open the door for Henning, who took full advantage, making par on both no. 17 and no. 18 – the latter coming under light from portable floodlights surrounding the green due to the late hour – to finish the 54 holes at 10-under-par 206.
Henning joins a list of winners of the Wisconsin State Open which boasts some impressive names. Steve Stricker – who has won 12 PGA Tour events and has been ranked as high as no. 2 in the world – was a five-time winner of the event (1987, ’90, ’91, ’98, 2000). Other notable winners of the Wisconsin State Open include five-time PGA Tour winner Mark Wilson (2001), three-time PGA Tour winner Jerry Kelly (1992) and current Oklahoma State golfer Jordan Niebrugge (2011), who finished in a tie for sixth place at The Open Championship at St. Andrew’s this year.