Freeman Rolls to 56th Nebraska Match Play Title

Freeman Rolls to 56th Nebraska Match Play Title

Championship Final Conducted Friday at Beatrice Country Club

BEATRICE (June 30, 2023) – Table Rock's Calvin Freeman completed one of the best performances in championship history by defeating Elkhorn's Ryan Nietfeldt, 9 and 8, in the 36-hole Final of the 56th Nebraska Match Play Championship on Friday at Beatrice Country Club.

Freeman, the Southeast Community College golf coach and former Husker, finished off a dominant run to his first NebGolf title. The No. 1 seed played 128 holes during the week and made 44 birdies and four eagles, breaking through at his home course.

After breezing through his first two matches, Freeman picked up wins in two tough matches on Thursday, and then may have saved his best golf for last. It was the No. 1 seed Freeman against the No. 2 seed, and 2003 Champion, Nietfeldt in the Final. Nietfeldt, who was playing in a record-tying fifth Nebraska Match Play Final, actually made the first move, making birdie on No. 2 to go 1 up. It was all Freeman from there though.

Four birdies in the next five holes gave Freeman a 3-up lead and kick-started an incredible run. He rolled in a long birdie putt on the par-3 11th, and then stuck his approach shot close on No. 12 for his seventh birdie of the day. Nietfeldt won the 13th hole, after Freeman found the penalty area left of the fairway off the tee and made bogey. It was the last hole Nietfeldt would win.

Freeman made his second birdie-2 of the back nine on the 221-yard par-3 15th hole to go 5 up. Both players then made matching birdies on Nos. 16 and 17. Nietfeldt nearly chipped in for eagle on the shortened 17th hole, but Freeman rolled in his 10th birdie of the match to tie the hole. After playing the first 18 holes of the Final in 8-under par, Freeman held a 5-up lead.

The resumption of the Final started at 11:30 a.m., and Freeman had seemingly cooled off, making three-straight pars to start the match. That did push his lead to 6 up though, with Nietfeldt making bogey on No. 1. The shot of the day came on the 607-yard par-5 fourth hole though, as Freeman hit a gap wedge from 108 yards and after a couple bounces and a few feet of roll, the ball dropped in the hole for his fourth eagle of the week. He was 7 up.

Freeman won No. 5 with a par to go 8 up, and then two-putted for his 44th birdie of the week on the par-5 ninth to push his lead to 9 up with nine holes to play. He stuck his approach shot inside 10 feet on No. 10, and an easy two-putt sealed the 9-and-8 win over Nietfeldt.

It was the fourth largest margin of victory in the Final in championship history, actually tied with Nietfeldt, who won his 2003 title by the same result, 9 and 8. During the week, Freeman made 44 birdies, four eagles and just 11 bogeys, making him 41-under par over 128 holes. He made birdie-or-better on 37.5% of the holes he played.

After some close calls, including a loss to Nietfeldt in the 2020 Nebraska Match Play Semifinals, Freeman picked up his first win. He also finished runner-up at the 2020 Nebraska Amateur. Nietfeldt finished runner-up for a record-extending fourth time.

The final bracket is now available on the championship website below, along with additional information.

Nebraska Match Play Championship

About NebGolf
The Nebraska Golf Association (NebGolf), 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 NebGolf. 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.

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