Easley Triumphs in Playoff for First Title
Final Round Conducted Friday at Lochland Country Club in Hastings
HASTINGS (July 30, 2021) – It's been a long wait for Lincoln's David Easley, but he finally has his title after winning the 113th Nebraska Amateur Championship in a playoff at Lochland Country Club in Hastings.
The final round did not disappoint, as Easley jumped into the lead after the front nine and held on until the end. His final round 68 (-4) pushed him into a tie at 276 (-12), and he made birdie on the second playoff hole to win his first individual NGA title.
The 42-year-old Easley started the day one-stroke back and made birdies on three of his first five holes to vault into the lead. He followed with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to take the solo lead at 12-under.
The three-time Nebraska Four-Ball Champion made two bogeys on the back nine, but answered each with a birdie. The first came on No. 14, after a bogey on No. 13, he followed with a close wedge shot and rolled in the birdie. He entered the final stretch with a two-stroke lead and bogeyed No. 17, but he completed an up-and-down for birdie to get to 12-under and force a playoff.
Vontz eagled the first hole, but bogeyed the next to start his day at 9-under. He made a couple more birdies but after a bogey on No. 14, he was 10-under and two-strokes out of the lead. He did not make another birdie, but it was a special shot on No. 18 that gave him a chance. He hit his second shot to about 20 feet and rolled in the eagle putt to get him in at 276 (12).
Easley and Vontz went into a playoff, which started on No. 17. Both players had long looks at birdie, and Vontz left his attempt from the back of the green just a couple rolls short and tapped in for par. Easley's birdie putt slid by on the low side and they went back to No. 18.
Easley hit a perfect drive into the fairway, while Vontz flew his through the fairway and into the left rough. Vontz had to work his second shot around some trees, and it finished hole-high and well right of the green. Easley came up short of the greenside bunker, in a similar position to where he was during regulation. He hit a great pitch to about four feet, while Vontz left his on the fringe and had about 15 feet for his birdie. Vontz couldn't convert, and Easley poured in his birdie putt to win the title.
Husker golfer Tristan Nelko was in the mix throughout the day, playing with Easley. He tied the lead after a birdie on No. 13, but fell back after a bogey on No. 15. Nelko also had an eagle putt on No. 18 to join the playoff, but left it short and finished one stroke back at 277 (-11) after a final round 69 (-3).
The 36-hole leader, Matthew Schaefer of Fordyce, finished fourth at 278 (-10). The South Dakota State golfer also went into the 18th hole needing an eagle, but his drive went through the fairway and a tree limited his back swing, and forced him to layup and he made par.
Blair's Vance Janssen shot the round of the day, a 66 (-6). He threatened the lead after a front nine 31 (-5), but bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13 dropped him off the pace. Janssen finished in a tie for fifth at 279 (-9). Bennington's Johnny Spellerberg joined him at that number after a 70 (-2). Spellerberg also tie the lead at one point, making the turn in 32 (-4), but three bogeys on the back nine kept him out of the playoff.
Elkhorn's Luke Gutschewski finished as the Low Junior for the second-straight year. He was one of three players to shoot four rounds under par during the championship, along with Easley and Omaha's Charlie Zielinski. Gutschewski's final round 69 (-3) moved him into seventh at 280 (-8). Zielinski finished eighth after his under par rounds left him at 282 (-6).
After his record-setting round on Thursday, Caleb Badura of Aurora finished with a round of 76 (+4) to place ninth at 283 (-5).Three players tied at 285 (-3) to round out the top 10, including Calvin Freeman of Table Rock, who shot 30 (-6) on his front nine and finished with a 69 (-3). Omaha's Grant Jabenis and Miles Russell also finished at 3-under.
A new championship record was set at Lochland, with 17 players finishing under par. The previous record was also set at Lochland in 1998, with 11 players in red numbers. Fremont's John Sajevic also extended another record. He extended two made cut records on Wednesday by advancing, and with his 21st place finish, Sajevic has his 34th top 25, six more than any other player.
Full results and more are available on the championship website.
About the NGA
The Nebraska Golf Association, founded in 1966, is comprised of all members of public and private clubs and/or municipal or regional golf associations which utilize an approved handicap service recognized by the USGA and provided by the NGA. Our mission is to uphold and promote the game of golf and its values to all golfers in Nebraska. Among the duties of the Association include governance of member clubs and service as their handicapping and course rating authority, conduct of state golf championships, local USGA qualifying & other notable competitions, promotion of junior golf, presentation of worthwhile educational programs and support of allied golf organizations in Nebraska. The Nebraska Golf Association is an Allied Golf Association of the USGA and carries out core services including Handicap Administration and Oversight, Course Rating, Rules of Golf and Rules of Amateur Status, Tournaments and USGA Championship Qualifiers and USGA Initiatives and Community Programs.