OMAHA – Table Rock’s Calvin Freeman put together the second-lowest round of the day to jump into the lead after the third round of the 112th Nebraska Amateur Championship at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha on Wednesday.
Freeman, who played college golf at Nebraska and now is the head coach at Southeast Community College, fired a round of 67 (-4) to take the 54-hole lead at 208 (-5). Omaha’s Andy Sajevic held the lead for most of the day, but a couple late bogeys dropped him to second, one stroke back at 209 (-4) after a round of 69 (-2).
There were more low numbers on Wednesday at Happy Hollow Club, but one round will be remembered for years to come. Lincoln’s Nate Vontz put himself in the record books with his third round 64 (-7). The Creighton Bluejay poured in the birdies, rolling in seven and adding an eagle too. The 64 ties the lowest round in Nebraska Amateur history. Knox Jones of Lincoln was the last to shoot that number in 1977 at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln. Omaha’s Warren Hotz and Bob Astleford both shot that number in 1960, but at the par-67 Field Club of Omaha. After making the cut by one stroke, Vontz is now tied for eighth at 217 (+4).
Freeman and Sajevic traded birdies all day, with Freeman finally tying the lead with a birdie on the par-5 14th hole. Sajevic bogeyed No. 15, and Freeman found himself with the solo lead and three holes to play. That’s when the weather finally started to move in, after slowly advancing toward Omaha all afternoon.
As the rain started to fall, both players hit the green on No. 16 and rolled in their birdie putts. When they approached the 17th green, play was suspended due to lightning in the area, with just two groups left to finish their rounds. After a short delay, they went back out and both players bogeyed the par-3.
It looked like Sajevic might tie the lead, or take it outright on the 18th hole, as he had a good birdie look and Freeman was scrambling for par. However, Freeman hit a great pitch shot from well short of the green and drained the putt, while Sajevic’s birdie try slid by.
Freeman briefly tied the lead on the front nine, after a birdie on No. 7, but Sajevic quickly answered with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 9 and 10 to push his lead back to two. However, Freeman nearly jarred his approach shot on No. 11 and made yet another birdie, and took the lead a few holes later.
The final pairing for Thursday’s final round, will be the same as it was for the 2013 Nebraska Amateur. Freeman and Sajevic were tied for the lead at ArborLinks in Nebraska City, and Sajevic triumphed for his third title. They are set to start at 11:39 a.m. on Thursday.
Sajevic won the Nebraska Amateur in 2010, 2011 and 2013, is searching for a fourth title, which would put him in company with only four others who have won at least four. He also won the 2010 Nebraska Amateur at Happy Hollow Club. It would be a first NGA title for Freeman.
Omaha’s Grant Jabenis, the first round leader, caught fire once again on Wednesday. He made more birdies than during his first round 66 (-5), rolling in six, including five in a seven-hole stretch to get to 3-under. Jabenis was just two strokes back after his last birdie on No. 13, but finished bogey-bogey to finish at 212 (-1) after a 69 (-2).
Doane University golfer Conor Schubring also had a hot round going, as he birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine to get to to 4-under for the round, and 2-under total. He also bogeyed two of his last three holes to finish at 213 (E), after a 69 (-2).
Husker golfer Tom Westenberger and Omaha’s Matthew Quandt both shot rounds of 71 (E). Westenberger is in fifth at 214 (+1), while Quandt is sixth at 215 (+2). Aurora’s Caleb Badura, last year’s runner-up, is in seventh at 216 (+3) after a 73 (+2). Vontz rounds out the top 10, in a tie for eighth with 2002 Champion Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn and Alex Kubik of Aurora. Nietfeldt was one of seven players to break par, shooting a 68 (-3), while Kubik finished with a 75 (+4).
The final round begins at 7 a.m. with play off No. 1 tee in twosomes on Thursday.