JANESVILLE — Tom Halla waited and waited and then waited some more at Riverside Golf Course on Saturday.
“It’s amazing how worn out you can get doing nothing,” the 44-year-old said with a laugh after finally completing his second round at the Ray Fischer Amateur Championship, one that featured nearly four hours of delays because of a slow-moving storm system. “I mean, I had breakfast here and lunch without hitting a shot. Warmed up twice, so it’s been a full day. I feel like I played 36 (holes).”
If the rain brought any type of silver lining, it would be that Halla won’t have to play 36 holes on Sunday.
Halla — the clubhouse supervisor at Naga-Waukee Golf Course — overcame what was a frustrating situation for the entire field by carding a 4-under-par 68, good for a two-day total of 137 (7 under) and sole possession of the lead entering the final round.
Traditionally, the Ray Fischer is decided by a 36-hole marathon on Championship Sunday.
But inclement weather prevented about half of the golfers from finishing their rounds on Saturday after play was suspended due to darkness, forcing tournament officials to downsize the event to 54 holes for the first time since Matt Behm’s victory in 2006.
Those who were unable to finish up on Saturday will return to Riverside Sunday morning to complete the second round, after which the field will be trimmed to the top 70 scores — including ties — and final-round play will commence at noon.
Tournament official John Jenson said the cutoff mark is expected to be either 148 or 149.
Among those through 36 holes of play, UW-Green Bay golfer Daniel Ozga (68) of Edgerton, recent Edgewood College graduate Andrew Cobb (70) of Sun Prairie and first-round leader Todd Schaap (73) of Kenosha sat closest to Halla, two strokes back.
According to course general manager Steve Loomis, Riverside has endured 8½ inches of rain over the past eight days, including 1½ inches alone on Saturday.
While the day’s soggy conditions limited some, particularly Schaap, Halla had no complaints.
As a youngster, Halla — who is from the Village of Lannon in Waukesha County — earned the nickname, “The Lannon Cannon,” because of his ability to throw a football deep.
He also specializes in long-distance iron play, which became a problem for Schaap on Saturday.
“Some of the par 5s, I mean, I couldn’t reach just because it was wet,” said Schaap, who followed up his 10-birdie opening round with just three in Round 2. “I hit 3-woods today in the par 5s instead of 5-irons and 4-irons, so it plays a lot differently. … It was tough.”
Meanwhile, Halla gathered momentum by carding an eagle on the par-5 14th, capping a 3-under start through his first five holes, before notching a matching 34 on the front nine.
This is the 25th Ray Fischer appearance for Halla, who finished in a three-way tie for second in 2009 and also has a pair of third-place finishes to his name.
“This is my favorite weekend of the season, without a doubt,” he said. “I’m disappointed we’re not playing all 72 (holes), but I can’t believe how they kept this place in shape.”
Was it an advantage to finish up on Saturday?
Well, the answer to that question depended on who was asked.
“I’m glad I got it all in,” Cobb said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen, but yeah, I think it’s a big advantage. I don’t know if there’s any more rain coming tomorrow, but it’s definitely going to affect the guys out there.”
Ozga, who waited 25 minutes for the water engulfing the No. 1 green to be cleared away before sinking the first of his four birdies, disagreed.
“I feel like it would have been better to tee off in the (late) afternoon, to be honest,” he said “It was a long morning. I got here and just sat and did nothing. I didn’t hit balls or practice putts because it was raining the whole time, so at least these guys got to practice a little bit. I could have slept in, I don’t know.”