Caleb Badura has back to state-champion status, but on a much higher level.
The Northwestern (Iowa) College sophomore-to-be from Aurora rolled Friday to the Nebraska men’s match-play golf title, a year removed from being the two-time Class B state champion.
With his 9-and-7 win at Players Club over Dan Huston on Huston’s home course, Badura became the fourth player to win the match-play crown before turning 20.
The other 19-year-old winners were Tim Bateman of Lincoln in 1968 at Norfolk Country Club, future PGA Tour pro Tom Sieckmann of Omaha in 1974 at Skyview in Alliance and Knox Jones of Lincoln in 1979 at the Country Club of Lincoln.
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“This one is special,’’ Badura said. “I had come so close in junior stuff over the years. I was not expecting this, honestly.
“I was playing some really good golf, but at (NAIA) nationals I kind of struggled in Arizona. The past few weeks, things have started to click, and the putting finally just turned, and that’s what got it done this week.”
He tied for third at last weekend’s Dinsdale Classic, won by match-play semifinalist Ryan Nietfeldt, on his home course of Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island. He said he was 2-under on his final nine, with a birdie on the last hole, and the good feeling carried over to Omaha.
After spotting Huston a 1-up lead, Badura won three of the last four holes on the front nine for a 2-up lead and went on another 3-of-4 stretch for a 5-up lead that became 4-up at the end of the morning round.
“I didn’t hit the ball 100 percent, just made a ton of putts,’’ Badura said. “The first 18, I made some bombs for birdies, and then he made some mistakes.”
Badura quickly stretched his lead to 7-up by winning the first three holes of the afternoon round, and he was 9-up after 25 holes. The match ended when Huston conceded Badura’s birdie putt after hitting his fourth shot on the par-4 11th.
“I felt there like I could get it close and give myself a chance on the back nine,’’ Huston said. “I know I can make birdies out here and play well, so if I could get it to maybe 2-down, but it didn’t happen. Caleb started making a lot of putts, and he earned it for sure.”
Huston’s takeaway from his best showing in a state tournament is confidence.
“Especially yesterday, I proved I could play really well under pressure and when it means something in a big tournament against good players,’’ said Huston, 36, who’s a manager at PayPal. “I was proud of the whole week, and I think I proved to myself I can compete in these tournaments.”
Badura goes for a sweep of the state tournaments at the 115th Nebraska Amateur from July 8-11 at the Country Club of Lincoln.