Owen Butler sat on his one-stroke lead for two hours, waiting for thunderstorms to move through.
When the radar cleared, the 34-year-old Milton native kept the electricity in the air at Riverside Golf Course.
Butler emerged from the delay by making three consecutive birdies to pull away from his nearest challengers. He didn’t make a bogey all day, carded a 9-under-par 63 that was a shot off the course record and beat Eau Claire’s Matt Tolan by three shots in a Ray Fischer Amateur Championship that was shortened to 54 holes because of the storms.
“I knew I was up one when we restarted ... on No. 5 and went birdie-birdie-birdie. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was six (birdies) in the first seven holes on that nine,” Butler said. “So that was fun. The best round I’ve ever played.”
“To win this tournament is awesome. I grew up up the road in Milton and actually never played this course very well in high school. But I’ve really learned how to play it and enjoy this tournament.”
Butler had several top-20 finishes in the past, but his previous best finish was eighth place.
After posting back-to-back rounds of 67 to open the tournament, Butler trailed Tolan by one shot heading into what is typically a 36-hole Sunday at the Fischer. But Butler knew, based on the forecast, the event could be shortened if there was a lengthy delay, and all the players know the course is typically set up to go low in the third round.
“I went out thinking it was a possibility this was going to be 54 holes,” Butler said. “So just try and go low here.
“Then, knowing what holes we had left (after the delay) and knowing those guys, six is an eagle hole, seven they’re going to drive it up by the green and eight knowing where the pin was ... I knew I was going to have to make some birdies.”
Tony Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, carded a final-round 66 to finish seventh at 9-under.
But the day and tournament belonged to Butler, who made just two bogeys all tournament—both in his opening round. The three birdies out of the delay gave him five in a row overall on the way to shooting a front-nine 30.
The victory was especially sweet to Butler because his father, Ed, who still resides in Milton, and family friend Bob Stalsberg were on hand to watch him close out the tournament.
“I’ve played well here the first day before, but usually I follow it up with something mediocre the second day,” said Butler, who turned professional earlier in his career but regained his amateur status in 2012. “I played good in my second round this time but knew I could go even a little lower, and my putter was hot all weekend. That’s what it takes to win here, because you have to go low.
“This is one of the big ones in the state, so I’m very happy and honored to win it.”