With Nate Vontz entering the professional ranks, the 55th Nebraska men’s match play championship will be without a defending champion.
The tournament returns this week to Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island for the first time since 2003, when G.I. native Ryan Nietfeldt was the winner.
Caleb Badura from Aurora, who recently finished his senior season at NU, is the most recent winner in the field, claiming the title in 2019. A third past champion in the field is Travis Minzel of Lincoln (2004). Each will look to become only the eighth player to win multiple state titles in match play.
Bypassing the event is 2020 winner Luke Kluver of Norfolk. The Kansas junior played in the Sunnehanna Amateur that ended Saturday and then accepted a return invitational to this week’s Northeast Amateur, in which he was a top-25 finisher in 2021.
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Nietfeldt is on the lookout for his tenth career NGA title, which would tie the Omahan with Omaha's Alex Schaake for the second-most career men’s titles. Nietfeldt’s ninth win was the Nebraska Four-Ball in April with partner Blake Giroux of Omaha.
The championship begins with a 36-hole qualifier on Monday and Tuesday to cut the field to 32 players for match play that begins Wednesday in the 6,750-yard, par-72 course. Two rounds of matches on Wednesday and Thursday will determine the pairing for the 36-hole final on Friday.
Others to watch include 2021 Nebraska Amateur winner David Easley of Lincoln, Omaha city champion Johnny Spellerberg and Omahans Luke Gutschewski, Charlie Zielinski and Danny Woodhead.
Gutschewski’s summer began with a bogeyless 36 holes at the Fremont Invitational. The Iowa State sophomore shot 64 and 66 for a 12-under total and a five-stroke win. Zielinski won the Dinsdale Classic at Riverside. The Creighton junior shot 64 in the final round to beat Gutchewski by one. Woodhead made it to the sectional finals for the U.S. Open.
The Nebraska Golf Association’s amateurs ended a two-year losing streak in the Nebraska Cup matches by defeating the Nebraska Section PGA’s pros 39.5-32.5 at Omaha Country Club. The pros lead the series 28-22 after the event’s 50th playing.
Nietfeldt and Omaha’s Andy Sajevic, who teamed in their four-ball match for a sweep, each earned eight of a possible nine points to lead the amateurs. Ryan Vermeer and Justin Herron of Omaha each had seven points to be the pros’ leading point-getters.
Sajevic is passing up the state match play because his wife is due to give birth to a baby boy.
Four under — his age
Nebraska Golf Hall of Famer Jim White, at age 72, made five birdies and shot 68 at a recent Nebraska Section PGA pro-am at Happy Hollow Club. White won by a stroke over Happy Hollow’s Ryan Vermeer.
The Nebraska Women’s Amateur Golf Association’s recent Pinehurst tournament at North Bend got its 15 seconds of fame. Or is that Phame? On Sirius XM satellite radio, 60s Gold DJ Phlash Phelps mentioned the tournament because one of the entrants was his cousin.