Nietfeldt/Knispel Win Four-Ball in Dramatic Fashion
It was a wide open race Sunday and an incredible finish capped the 18th Nebraska Four-Ball Championship at The Players Club in Omaha, with Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn and Ryan Knispel of Omaha capturing the title.
Omaha’s Mark Wright and Bennington’s Steve Buroker, Cole Grandfield of Omaha and John Sutko of Elkhorn, two-time champions David Easley of Lincoln and Joel Wisdom of Omaha entered the final round tied for the lead, but they didn’t hold it for long, and all but Easley and Wisdom were out of contention for most of the back nine. Instead, two teams caught fire and came from behind to get into a playoff.
Gretna’s Brian Csipkes and Omaha’s Bill Amundsen made three birdies on the front nine to jump into the lead, and kept it rolling on the back nine. Amundsen birdied No. 12, and Csipkes made birdie on both par-3s to get the team to 6-under for the day. Amundsen nearly made birdie on No. 17, and Csipkes had a great look at birdie on No. 18, but neither putt would fall and they were the first in the clubhouse at 135 (-7), after a final round 65 (-6).
Nietfeldt and Knispel made the turn in 34 (-1), after a Nietfeldt birdie on No. 9, and started watching the leaderboard. They knew they’d need to make some birdies to chase Csipkes and Amundsen, and they did just that. Knispel rolled one in on No. 11, Nietfeldt followed with another on the par-3 13th, and they both had makeable putts on the par-3 16th. Knowing they’d likely need to birdie-out to win outright, both missed their putts on No. 16, but Knispel stuck his approach close on No. 17 and made the putt. Then Nietfeldt went for the green in two on the par-5 18th, catching the greenside bunker. He converted his up-and-down for birdie, making a clutch putt to force the playoff.
Easley and Wisdom had a chance to join the playoff on No. 18, after Easley birdied the 17th. Easley hit a great chip, after his second shot finished just short of the green, but his ball stopped just a few inches short of the hole. He tapped in for birdie, and they finished at 136 (-6) after a second-straight 68 (-3).
The playoff went to No. 18, and Csipkes and Amundsen seemed to have the advantage with two birdie looks, including Amundsen’s from about six feet. However, they never even had the chance to putt. Nietfeldt went for the green, but pulled it left of the greenside bunker into an awkward, downhill lie in the rough, with the green sloping away from him. He went for broke, hitting a flop shot and landing it on the fringe just over the bunker. The ball trickled onto the green, down the slope and rolled into the hole. It was a walk-off eagle-3, and Nietfeldt and Knispel won their first Nebraska Four-Ball title.
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