LINCOLN (June 22, 2019) – The first round of Stroke Play Qualifying for the 53rd Nebraska Match Play Championship is complete at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln, and three players are tied for the lead at 68 (-4). Fourteen players finished their rounds under-par today, which is the most in a stroke play qualifying round since 2015 at The Prairie Club in Valentine. That year, 17 players broke par on The Dunes Course. Three players sit atop the leaderboard, including Table Rock’s Calvin Freeman, Omaha’s Christian Hall and Norfolk’s Luke Kluver. Freeman was the low round in the morning wave. His bogey-free round included four birdies, three of which came in a four-hole stretch from holes No. 11-14.
This is Freeman’s first NGA event after regaining his amateur status. Hall joined him at the top of the leaderboard in the afternoon. His round included six birdies and only two bogeys. His bogey-free back nine included four birdies that moved him to 4-under after an even-par front nine. The final player to get to 4-under was Kluver. He stumbled out of the gate, bogeying two of his first three holes. He kick-started his round on the fourth hole, when he holed out from about 120 yards for eagle. From there, he didn’t have a bogey for the rest of his round. He tacked on four more birdies to move to a tie for the lead. Jace Guthmiller of Omaha sits in a tie for third along with CJ Farber of Kearney after rounds of 69 (-3). Guthmiller, who was the runner-up in 2018, only had one bogey during his round, and added on three birdies and an eagle. Farber is also returning to amateur golf after playing professionally for several years. He made three birdies on each nine, including a finishing birdie on the 18th hole.
There are six players tied for fourth place after shooting 70 (-2). That group includes Chris Kelly of Omaha, William Amundsen of Bennington, Jay Moore of Lincoln, Nate Vontz of Lincoln, and Jake Kluver of Norfolk. There’s also a number of past champions in the field that are within the top 32 today. The 2003 champion Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn is tied for 11th after shooting a 71 (-1). The 2013 champion Andy Sajevic of Omaha is tied for 15th after shooting even-par 72. The 1989 and 1996 champ John Sajevic of Fremont is tied for 23rd after a 73 (+1). He’s tied with 2002 champ AJ Elgert of Lincoln and defending champion Caleb Badura of Aurora. Ivan Yabut of Omaha also had a memorable moment today, when he holed out from 186 yards with a six iron for a double-eagle on the 18th hole.