While golf is traditionally dominated by southern states such as Florida, Georgia, Arizona, California, and Texas, Wisconsinites have held their own on the PGA Tour for the past couple of generations, and with some blooming stars also representing the dairy state, a major winner from Wisconsin could be crowned in the near future. While many up and coming stars have made a name for themselves, Wisconsin’s history in golf in engrained in tradition as well. Here, we look at who has and who will provide the narrative for Wisconsin golfers.
1. Andy North – Students at the University of Wisconsin likely know this Monona, WI resident for introducing Jump Around on gameday year after year or from watching his broadcasts on ESPN. Make no mistake, though: Andy North is not only the best golfer the state of Wisconsin has produced, but he will also go down as one of the greatest in history. Among the golfing world, North is predominantly famed for his remarkable two U.S Open victories in 1978 and 1985, to go along with a sensational amateur career highlighted by a wins at the famed Western Amateur and Wisconsin Amateur. North unfortunately is not a member of the prestigious World Golf Hall of Fame, but he does hold a place in the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame and can often be found at the Kohl Center for Badger basketball games.
2. Steve Stricker – With 12 top-10 finishes in golf majors and 12 victories on the PGA Tour, Steve Stricker comes in as the second-best golfer in Wisconsin history. While Stricker enjoyed a tremendous career at the University of Illinois, he was born and raised in Wisconsin, and currently calls Madison his home town and University Ridge (home course of the Wisconsin Badgers golf team) one of his favorite courses. The 49-year-old no longer frequents the PGA Tour like he used to, but as the former #2 golfer in the world and a highly respected American player, he will serve as the vice-captain to Davis Love III for the upcoming 2016 Ryder Cup, and as captain of the 2017 US Presidents Cup team.
3. Jerry Kelly – As yet another Madison native, Kelly has been a strong presence on the PGA Tour since 1996. He has won 3 times on tour and at his best, sat as the 19th best player in the world back in 2003. The 49-year-old still enjoys a successful career on tour, placing in the top-25 three times thus far in 2016, and will be out to claim his first victory since 2002 at the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic this weekend.
1. Jordan Niebrugge – Mequon native and star Oklahoma State golfer Jordan Niebrugge is not only the most promising Wisconsin golfer, but he is also one of the most highly acclaimed amateur golfers in the world right now, as he currently sits at #14 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. The 22-year-old has an impeccable resume, consisting of a 6th place finish at The Open Championship, a Wisconsin golf “grand slam,” a victory at the U.S Amateur Public Links, to go along with great success on the Jr. Walker Cup team in 2013. Having recently graduated from Oklahoma State, Niebrugge is sure to be a solid tour player in the near future.
2. Charlie Danielson – As a rising star in golf, Danielson stands as the 12th ranked amateur golfer in the world. He joins Steve Stricker as a prominent Wisconsin golfer graduating from the University of Illinois, where he just finished another successful senior season highlighted by a victory at the Crooked Stick Intercollegiate this past fall. After beating Tony Finau in a playoff last week, Danielson will be making his first major appearance at the U.S. Open in two weeks.
The future of golf is bright for the state of Wisconsin and will only get better, especially with the U.S. Open coming to Erin Hills in 2017 and many more tournaments expected at Whistling Straits, Kohler, and University Ridge.
Images courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Madison.com