Thomas Longbella

Chippewa Falls native Thomas Longbella replaces the pin during a 2019 tournament with the University of Minnesota.

A Wisconsin Amateur Championship title has eluded Thomas Longbella several times in his golf career.

Now, he’s got his best shot yet at bringing home the prestigious honor.

The Chippewa Falls native gave himself plenty of breathing room Wednesday in the third round of the tournament at Milwaukee Country Club. He entered the day with a one-stroke lead and stretched it to a six-shot advantage heading to the final round.

Longbella shot a 69 to sit at 5-under after three rounds. The 2016 and 2018 runner-up at the event recovered from a triple bogey on the fifth hole with three birdies across the final 10 holes.

On a course that has been brutally difficult for golfers to master through three rounds, Longbella’s six-stroke lead will be even more daunting to overcome than in any other tournament. Spring Valley’s Tyler Leach and Greendale’s Nate Thomson are both 1-over and tied for second place.

Leach, the first-round leader, shot an even-par 70 on Wednesday. Thomson entered the final hole of the third round just four strokes back of Longbella, but double bogeyed the 18th.

Eau Claire’s Matt Tolan carded a 73 in the third round and is 3-over heading to Thursday, good for fourth place. He endured a tough stretch on the front nine, with a double bogey on No. 6 and bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8. Tolan was the 2017 champion at the event and was the runner-up last summer.

Current UW-Eau Claire golfer Isaac Prefontaine and former Blugold Cole Stark are tied for 35th and 73rd, respectively.

Longbella nearly captured victory at the State Amateur in 2018, but fell in a marathon eight-hole playoff to take second place. With other golfers struggling to get under par at this year’s tournament, simply hanging around even par should likely be enough to see Longbella finish on top this time around.