OMAHA – The 34th Kansas-Nebraska Junior Cup ended in a tie for just the fourth time in the event’s history, with the defending champions from Nebraska retaining the cup after the teams finished in an 8-all tie, Thursday at Omaha Country Club.
The teams from Kansas and Nebraska entered the day in the same deadlock, at 4-all, after a split of the first two sessions on the first day.
Kansas jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the Four-Ball matches, before Nebraska stormed back to tie it with a 3-1 Foursomes session.
Kansas took the lead in a few of the early singles matches, but Nebraska’s top point earner, Reed Malleck of York, fought back in the opening match to start a rally. Malleck tied his match against future Kansas Jayhawk Sion Audrain of Garden City, and it all came down to the last match. Norfolk’s Jake Kluver also tied his match against
Tyler Trudo of Wichita for the clinching point, as the teams split the Singles session, 4-all, and Nebraska retained the cup.
Malleck, who will be a senior at York High School, cruised in both of his matches on the first day with partner Isaac Heimes of Norfolk but had to overcome a rough start and a tough opponent. Malleck lost the second hole after hitting his drive out of bounds, and Audrain nearly aced the 234-yard par-3 third hole, earning a conceded birdie from just a few inches to take a 2-up lead.
However, that’s when Malleck started to fight back, as he won No. 4 with a par, then made clutch putts on Nos. 6 and 7 to take a 1-up lead. His lead reached 2-up, before Audrain made a run down the stretch to win four straight holes and take a 1-up lead to the 18th hole.
Both players were left on the difficult par-5 18th, but Malleck was able to convert an up and-
down from just short of the green to win the hole and tie the match.
Both teams were able to close out three victories in the next six matches, so it all came down to the final match between Kluver and Trudo.
The two players were facing each other for the third time in these matches, having split the first two.
Trudo led from the onset, winning the first two holes to go 2-up. Kluver battled back to tie the match after nine holes, but Trudo answered by winning three of the next five holes to push his lead back to 3 up.
That’s when Kluver made his own run, winning the par-3 15th with a par, and also the par-5 16th with a great up-and-down for birdie.
He headed to No. 17, 1 down, while the only other match on the course left was Lincoln’s Josh Bartels and Shawnee’s Nicklaus Mason.
Bartels had battled back and won four straight holes to tie the match heading to the final hole. However, Mason closed out the match, 1-up, with a par, and it was up to Kluver to
comeback to clinch the cup.
Kluver hit a perfect drive down the middle on No. 17 and wedged his approach to about 10 feet. Trudo hit his drive left and dealt with tree trouble, eventually conceding the hole after not reaching the putting surface after his fourth stroke.
On No. 18, it was Kluver’s drive that was left, and Trudo’s that was down the middle, but Kluver hit a great recovery shot just short of the green and his chip shot finished about three feet from the hole.
Trudo hit a good approach shot to about 15 feet, but his putt stayed on the high side, and Kluver knocked down his par putt for the clinching half-point.
The 2019 Nebraska Junior Match Play Champion Luke Gutschewski of Elkhorn was one of three Nebraskans to win during the singles matches, and
the first one to do so, taking a 4-and-3 victory over Gentry Scheve of Emporia. Charlie Zielinski of Omaha ran away with a win in his match, defeating Tradgon McCrae of Plainville 5 and 4. Lincoln’s Connor Vandewege picked up the other win, holding on after building up a 3-up lead and winning the 18th hole to win 2-up.
The matches last ended in a tie in 2016, and also previously did in 2000 and 2004. Nebraska retained the cup the first two times, but Kansas retained it in 2016. Nebraska has now won the cup in back-to-back years, following a stretch of seven straight wins by Kansas. It’s the first consecutive wins for Nebraska since winning three straight from 2006-2008. Kansas now leads the overall series, 19-15.
Full results and more are available on the NGA website here: nebgolf.org/knjuniorcup. A drop-box folder with video interviews and highlights is available. Feel free to use any content with credit to the Nebraska Golf Association: