OMAHA -- The Nebraska Golf Association announced the selection of Aurora’s Caleb Badura and Elkhorn’s Ryan Nietfeldt as co-recipients of the 2019 Nebraska Amateur Golfer of the Year award. It’s just the fourth time in the 52-year history of the award that it has been shared.
Badura and Nietfeldt were separated by just 29 points in the final NGA Point Standings, the closest margin in 15 years. Nietfeldt edged Badura for the top spot on the strength of his wins at the Nebraska Mid-Amateur and Nebraska Four-Ball, but Badura’s performance in the NGA’s majors were enough to earn him a share of the award. It’s the first such award for the 19-year-old Badura, who transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for his sophomore year and is competing for the Huskers this fall.
The 43-year-old Nietfeldt, a Grand Island Senior High graduate who was also a Husker golfer (1995-1999), becomes the oldest to win the award, and is the first mid-amateur (25-or-older) to win the award since himself in 2012. It is also Nietfeldt’s fourth Golfer of the Year award, which ties him for second all-time with Friend’s David Clouse. Nietfeldt also won the award in 2002, 2003 and 2012, and now only trails Lincoln’s Larry Sock, who owns five awards.
Nietfeldt captured a record-tying third title in September at the 21st Nebraska Mid-Amateur Championship. It was also his ninth NGA title overall, which ties him with Lincoln’s Knox Jones on the all-time list. Only Fremont’s John Sajevic and Omaha’s Alex Schaake have won more, with 10 each. Earlier in the year, Nietfeldt won his eighth title at the 18th Nebraska Four-Ball Championship at The Players Club in Omaha in dramatic fashion.
Nietfeldt birdied the 18th hole during the final round to force a playoff, and then holed an incredible flop shot for eagle in the playoff to give himself and partner Ryan Knispel of Omaha the win. It was Nietfeldt’s first Four-Ball title, and became the sixth different NGA championship that he has won.
In addition, Nietfeldt advanced to the semifinals of the 52nd Nebraska Match Play Championship at The Players Club in Omaha, and tied for 25th at the 111th Nebraska Amateur Championship at The Country Club of Lincoln. Nietfeldt also won the Dinsdale Classic at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island against a strong amateur field, and cruised to win the Homesteader at Beatrice Country Club by six strokes.
Badura had an incredible rise this summer, and was a putt away from sweeping the NGA’s majors. He emerged through a gauntlet at the Nebraska Match Play Championship, taking down past champions Travis Minzel of Lincoln and Andy Sajevic of Omaha early on.
Badura defeated Omaha’s Dan Huston in the 36-hole Final, 9 and 7, the fifth largest winning margin in championship history. A month later at the Nebraska Amateur, Badura came from three strokes behind in the final round, shooting a 68 (-4) to force a playoff with three-time defending champion Alex Schaake. The second longest playoff in championship history ensued and seven holes later, Schaake pulled out his fourth straight win.
Badura also tied for third at the Dinsdale Classic, three strokes behind Nietfeldt, and tied for sixth in a very strong field at the Indian Creek Invitational.
Nietfeldt and Badura will be honored at the Nebraska Golf Association's annual awards banquet on Friday, November 15 at The Country Club of Lincoln. In addition, the NGA will recognize its Senior Amateur Golfer of the Year, Junior Amateur Golfer of the Year and Girls’ Amateur Golfer of the Year. The Nebraska Women's Amateur Golf Association's Player of the Year will also be honored.