LINCOLN – The first day of matches was completed at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln on Wednesday, and eight players remain in the hunt for the 53rd Nebraska Match Play Championship.
The top three seeds are all still alive, including stroke play qualifying medalist and No. 1 seed Luke Kluver of Norfolk. Kluver, the Kansas Jayhawk who is looking for his first NGA title, cruised through his first match. He defeated the 2002 Champion AJ Elgert of Lincoln, 7 and 6. Kluver then faced JT Hudson of Omaha in the Round of 16. Hudson gave the No. 1 seed a run after falling behind early, tying the match with wins on Nos. 7 and 8. Kluver answered though, winning No. 9 and then winning Nos. 12, 13 and 15 to close out the match, 4 and 3.
The 2004 Champion Travis Minzel of Lincoln is scheduled to face Kluver in the Quarterfinals. Minzel defeated Bill Amundsen of Bennington in his first match, birdieing the 18th hole to win 1 up. He took down Chris Atkinson of Omaha in the Round of 16, 4 and 3.
The next quarterfinal will feature Matthew Schaefer of Fordyce and Caleb Badura of Aurora, the defending champion. Badura rolled in his first match, but faced the toughest battle of the day in his second. He found himself 3 down after Elkhorn’s Alex Farrell won holes No. 11, 12 and 13. However, Badura won the next hole, birdied No. 16 and then won the 18th with a par to force extra holes. They tied the first two extra holes, and Badura won the match on No. 2 with a two-putt par.
No. 2 seed and the 2003 Champion Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn is back to the second day of matches for the second straight year. Nietfeldt, who lost in the semifinals last year, won both of his matches 4 and 3. He’ll take on Jesse Talcott, who was the 2018 South Dakota Golfer of the Year before moving to Ashland recently. Talcott won in 19 holes over Husker golfer Tanner Owen, last year’s No. 1 seed.
In the last quarterfinal, Table Rock’s Calvin Freeman will face Grand Island’s Glenn Bills. Freeman, the No. 3 seed, rolled through his first match 6 and 5, then ran into a tough match in the afternoon. Freeman dropped a putt on the 18th green to win 1 up over Alex Zillig of La Vista. Bills won 3 and 2 in the Round of 16 over the 2013 Champion Andy Sajevic of Omaha.
The Quarterfinals begin at 7 a.m. on Thursday, with the Semifinals scheduled to start 12 p.m.