Eight players remain at the 52nd Nebraska Match Play Championship after the first two rounds of matches at The Players Club in Omaha on Wednesday.
The No. 1 seed Tanner Owen, a Husker golfer, survived two difficult matches that both went to the 18th hole. Owen faced Gretna’s Michael Croker in the Round of 32. Croker earned the No. 32 this morning in a resumption of a playoff that was suspended from Tuesday night. He looked to be out of the playoff on the first hole of the morning, but holed an incredible pitch shot from behind the green, in the native grass on No. 4. The hole-out gave Croker the final spot over Elkhorn’s Luke Gutschewski, and he went on to give Owen a good match, with Owen winning the 18th hole to advance, 1 up.
Owen then faced Lincoln’s Jay Moore, a former Husker football player, in the Round of 16 and had his hands full again. Moore held a 3 up lead after 10 holes, but that’s when Owen grabbed the momentum, winning five of the next six holes to take the lead, and closed out the match with a par on No. 18 to win 1 up. He’ll face Omaha’s Dan Huston in the Quarterfinals. Huston cruised in both of his matches, winning each 5 and 4.
It’ll be a rematch of the Nebraska Four-Ball playoff just over a month ago in the next Quarterfinal, as Bennington’s William Amundsen and Elkhorn’s Ryan Nietfeldt will square up again. Nietfeldt, the 2003 champion, had a rematch of his own, taking on the 1989 and 1996 champion John Sajevic of Fremont. Nietfeldt and Sajevic faced each other in the 1996 Nebraska Match Play Final at Highland Country Club in Omaha, and Sajevic won that match, 4 and 3. This time, it was Nietfeldt who came out on top, winning 5 and 4. Another past champion is in the final Quarterfinal. Omaha’s Andy Sajevic made it through a tough match against Bennington’s Steve Buroker, 1 up, in the Round of 32.
Then the 2013 champion rolled in the Round of 16, defeating Grand Island’s Glenn Bills, 6 and 4. Sajevic will face Aurora’s Caleb Badura, who took down the 2004 champion Travis Minzel of Lincoln, 3 and 2, and then Omaha’s AJ Nolin, 1 up.
The Quarterfinals begin at 7 a.m. Thursday morning, with the Semifinals scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.