Spellerberg Battles Back to Become 55th Nebraska Match Play Champion

Spellerberg Battles Back to Become 55th Nebraska Match Play Champion

Championship Final Conducted Final at Riverside Golf Club

GRAND ISLAND (June 24, 2022) – Bennington's Johnny Spellerberg battled back from a deficit to win the 36-hole Final of the 55th Nebraska Match Play Championship, 2 and 1, over York's Reed Malleck at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island on Friday.

Both players were past Nebraska Junior Match Play Champions, and trying to become the fifth player to also win a Nebraska Match Play title. Spellerberg was down after the first 18 holes, but came back to win his first title, and third NGA title overall. He won the 2010 Nebraska Junior Match Play and is the reigning Nebraska Mid-Amateur Champion. Malleck won his Junior Match Play title in 2020. Spellerberg is also the first mid-amateur (25+) to win since Omaha's Patrick Duffy in 2006.

Malleck, a Husker golfer, came out firing in the Final, making five birdies on the front nine to take a 4-up lead. He was dialed in, as none of the five birdies came from outside five feet.

Up against the ropes, Spellerberg did not back down. The Creighton alum nearly aced the par-3 10th hole, and hit his approach shot close on No. 11, both for conceded birdies. Another birdie putt was conceded on No. 12, after Malleck made bogey, and the lead was just 1 up.

A great up-down for par on the par-3 14th by Spellerberg tied the match, but Malleck responded, and this time it was his putter that caught fire. He rolled in a 20 foot birdie putt on No. 15 to take back the lead, then added a big-breaking birdie putt from 15 feet on No. 17. For good measure, after leaving a pitch shot short on the par-5 18th, Malleck rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe to take a 2-up lead at the break.

The 45-minute lunch break did not cool Malleck down at all. He found the par-5 first green in two, and two-putted for another birdie, but Spellerberg tied him with a birdie of his own. On No. 2, Malleck rolled in a tricky downhill putt for his fourth-straight birdie, and punctuated it with fist pump, pushing his lead to 3 up.

The birdies had a bit of a rest, but Spellerberg grinded out some wins over the front nine, and then snuck in a birdie on No. 9 to tie the match once again. Malleck won No. 10, but then Spellerberg made his final move. He rolled in a putt from just off the 11th green for birdie, then made a great par on the difficult 13th hole to take his first lead of the match.

A dagger came on No. 15, where Malleck found tree trouble to the left of the fairway, and his second shot went out-of-bounds. After Spellerberg hit his approach shot on the green, the hole was conceded, and the lead was 2 up.

The 16th hole was tied, and both players hit their tee shots up near the 17th green, with the tees moved up. Spellerberg played from the greenside bunker to a foot, and Malleck conceded the birdie and the match.

In the 35 holes played during the Final, only 13 were tied, while 17 holes were won with birdies. Spellerberg joins seven others who have won three NGA titles. He also joins Ryan Nietfeldt, Steve Friesen, Andy Sajevic, Alex Schaake as players who have won the Nebraska Junior Match Play and the Nebraska Match Play titles.

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

Nebraska Match Play Championship

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.

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