A steady rain greeted the 31 golfers at the Norfolk Country Club on Wednesday morning as they competed for a single automatic qualifying spot in next month’s USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at two Denver-area golf courses.
Despite the rain, Nebraska Golf Association officials chose not to delay the morning start.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” NGA executive director Craig Ames said. “We didn’t have any electricity in the air and we’ve got to get the qualifier in. You play in the rain. It’s an outdoor sport, right?”
One of the players, Omahan Brian Csipkes, said he was a little irritated, “but, it never rained hard enough that was a real problem; it was just more of a nuisance.”
Csipkes — pronounced sip’-kes — was a nuisance to the other 30 players in the field, firing a 6-under round of 66, three shots better than a trio at 3-under: Brodie Hullinger of Brookings, South Dakota; Andrew Saajevic of Omaha and Travis Ingstad of Valley City, North Dakota.
Those three competed in a playoff for two alternate spots. Ingstad was eliminated first. Hullinger and Sajevic both parred the first three playoff holes at 13, 14 and 18. Then both hit solid approach shots on the fourth playoff hole, also on 13.
Hullinger had a 15-foot birdie putt, while Sajevic was about half that distance from the pin. “I was kind of to the point where I thought I needed to make it,” Hullinger said. “He was in there pretty close and I just had a good read, put a good stroke on it and happy to have it go in.”
Sajevic’s putt drifted wide left. Hullinger earned the first alternate spot for the national tournament while Sajevic is listed as the second.
Two Norfolk golfers — Lance Morrow and Lance Lawson — were part of a four-way tie for seventh at 2-over 74.
“It started off well, putted well, but then didn’t play very well on the back nine,” Morrow said. “I made a double bogey on 13 in the middle of the fairway and had to fight back to do the best that I could.”
Lawson suffered two double bogeys on the front nine but countered with a pair of birdies on the back.
“Two bad holes today kind of cost me the tournament,” Lawson said. “But, I finally started to hit some good shots on the back nine which was good to see.”
Meanwhile, Csipkes played steady golf through the steady rain. “Six birdies, no bogeys, just kind of kept it in play,” he said. “Made a couple of really good up-and-downs on the back nine that kept the round going. It wasn’t flashy.
The win earned Cspikes his fourth chance in the USGA Mid-Amateur national tournament. “Mid-amateur means it’s for people 25 years of age and older,” Ames said. “The mid-amateurs are usually those people that didn’t go on to play professional golf and guys that are just out of college.”
Cspikes will join all of the regional qualifiers Sept. 14-19 near Denver. They’ll play 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying — 18 at Colorado Golf Club and 18 at CommonGround Golf Course — with the low 64 advancing to match-play.
“In 2015, I made the match-play, lost in the round of 32,” Cspikes said. “So, I’m hoping to do a little better than that this time.”
2019 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship Qualifying
Norfolk Country Club
Top Ten and Norfolk golfers
1. Brian Csipkes, Omaha 66
T2. Brodie Hullinger, Brookings, S.D. 69
T2. Andrew Sajevic, Omaha 69
T2. Travis Ingstad, Valley City, N.D. 69
T5. Matthew Quandt, Omaha 73
T5. Michael Hughett, Owasso, Okla. 73
T7. Lance Morrow, Norfolk 74
T7. Lance Lawson, Norfolk 74
T7. James Doebelin, Omaha 74
T7. Ryan Nietfeldt, Elkhorn 74
T19. Zach Sudbeck, Norfolk 79
T19. Chris Asbury, Norfolk 79
T25. Brad Bosh, Norfolk 82