Top Four Seeds Advance to Quarterfinals at Nebraska Match Play
Rounds of 32 and 16 Conducted Wednesday at Beatrice Country Club
BEATRICE (June 28, 2023) – The top four seeds all advanced to the Quarterfinals at the 56th Nebraska Match Play Championship, after two rounds of matches on Wednesday at Beatrice Country Club.
It was nearly a chalk Quarterfinals, as the top eight seeds all had a chance to advance, with six advancing and two falling on the final hole, or extra holes. The No. 1 seed Calvin Freeman of Table Rock led the charge for the top seeds, cruising in both of his matches and needing just 29 holes to close them out.
Freeman didn't lose a step after a dominant Stroke Play Qualifying run. The Southeast Community College golf coach and former Husker defeated the No. 32 seed, Rex Soulliere of Omaha, 5 and 4, in his opening match. He followed that by winning five of the first six holes against Owen Tucker of Lincoln, who was crowned the Nebraska Junior Match Play Champion last week. Tucker fought back, making an eagle-3 on the par-5 14th to stay alive, but Freeman closed him out on the next hole with a birdie to win, 4 and 3.
It will be a No. 1 versus No. 8 matchup in the Quarterfinals, as Norfolk's Luke Kluver breezed into the round with two big wins of his own. The 2020 Champion needed just 28 holes to get through his matches, defeating Lincoln's Miles Elgert, 5 and 3, and Lincoln's Thomas Gatlin, 6 and 5. Kluver started his Round of 16 match with four-straight birdies and made six total in 13 holes to take out Gatlin.
The defending champion had similar success. Bennington's Johnny Spellerberg, the No. 6 seed, won his Round of 32 match, 4 and 2, over Lincoln's Justin Webert. He followed that up with a 4-and-3 win over Omaha's Brad Rowe for his seventh straight match win in this championship. Spellerberg will face Bellevue Bruin and No. 3 seed Alex Zillig of La Vista. Zillig took down the 2022 Nebraska Junior Match Play Champion, Jackson Benge of Omaha, 2 and 1, and then won 3 and 2 over Omaha's Charlie Zielinski.
The No. 2 seed and 2003 Champion, Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn, was not pushed to the limit either. He won 3 and 1 over Doniphan's Ethan Smith, and then rolled to a 5-and-4 win over the only Beatrice native to make the bracket, Graham Southwick.
Nietfeldt will square-up against the No. 10 seed, and former NFL player, Danny Woodhead of Elkhorn. Woodhead picked up a 3-and-1 win over the 2021 Nebraska Junior Amateur Champion, Connor Steichen of Omaha, in the Round of 32. He was faced with a battle in the Round of 16 against the 2004 Champion, Travis Minzel of Lincoln. The two tied only three holes on the back nine, with Woodhead starting birdie-birdie, and Minzel holing out from a greenside bunker on the par-5 14th for an eagle. Woodhead won the last two holes, with a birdie on No. 17 and a par on No. 18, to win the match, 1 up.
Lincoln's David Easley made it all four top seeds into Thursday, as the No. 4 seed survived a tough battle with Gretna's Brian Csipkes, the 2022 Nebraska Senior Amateur Champion and Nebraska Senior Match Play Champion. Easley won the match 1 up, and then defeated Creighton golfer Jackson Thompson in the Round of 16, 2 and 1.
Easley will face Omaha's Matthew Quandt, who birdied the 18th hole to defeat Husker golfer Grant Jabenis of Omaha in the Round of 32. Quandt then had a rematch with another Husker golfer, York's Reed Malleck.
The two faced-off in the Semifinals last year, with Malleck prevailing. It was the best, and longest, match of the day. Malleck had pushed out to a 2-up lead through 12 holes, but Quandt won Nos. 14, 16 and 17 to take the lead. Malleck won the 18th after hitting a clutch approach shot, with Quandt in trouble, to force extra holes.
Malleck had chances on the first two extra holes to win the match, but Quandt fought him off. On No. 3, Quandt was stymied behind a tree and had to chip out to the fairway, while Malleck hit a great shot onto the back of the green. Quandt stuffed his third shot close, and Malleck three-putted for bogey. Quandt dropped his par putt to win the rematch and advance to the Quarterfinals.
Thursday's Quarterfinals begin at 7:30 a.m. with the Semifinals to follow in the afternoon at 12:30 p.m. The updated bracket is now available on the championship website below, along with additional information.
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.