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24th & Glory: An 11-part World-Herald series by Dirk Chatelain


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Two Nebraskans need strong performances at Pinnacle Bank Championship to stay on Korn Ferry Tour

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Scott Gutschewski

Omahan Scott Gutschewski heads into the 2019 Pinnacle Bank Championship, looking to keep his playing rights on the Korn Ferry Tour for another year.

Scott Gutschewski and Brandon Crick could use a boost from their homestate tournament on the newly named Korn Ferry Tour.

They will start the Pinnacle Bank Championship on Thursday at Indian Creek outside the top 100 golfers on the tour — known until June as the Web.com Tour — that feeds the PGA Tour.

Each, though, is on a different clock for keeping his spot on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020.

Gutschewski is using a major medical exemption after foot surgery late in 2017. The Omahan played only one tournament in 2018 — the PBC. The PBC will be his 14th in 2019. He then will have seven starts left, which he can carry over to 2020.

His target is making $69,798 — the 2018 cutoff for being in the top 75 on tour and keeping playing rights for another year. He’s at $37,693 after missing the cut Friday at the new TPC Colorado Championship.

“Being on medical is a little bit different,’’ he said. “I’d love to win, love to get my card this year. But my main objective in planning my schedule is making enough money in the starts I have left.”

It’s a double-edged situation. Gutschewski can pick events where he’s had success or courses he likes and he doesn’t have to be on the road every week. The final 15 tournaments of the regular season are scheduled in consecutive weeks.

“It’s been a little tough to get momentum going,’’ he said. Then he chuckled. “But I felt pretty darn fresh every time I’ve played.”

Crick has improved his standing on the tour throughout the year but needs to be in the top 75 by the end of the regular season next month to be assured of being a full-time member in 2020. The McCook native is No. 149 on the Korn Ferry points list — akin to the FedEx Cup point standings for the PGA Tour — after missing the cut in Colorado.

Crick began the year with conditional status and couldn’t get into the first few tournaments. He got into tournaments in Savannah, Georgia, and Louisiana through Monday qualifying, but missed the cut in each.

“I got a great opportunity when the Dormie Network Classic gave me a sponsor’s exemption,’’ Crick said. “It was a kick-start to the year. I was in the top 20, tied for 18th. And it got me into the next event where I made the cut again.

“I had kind of a good middle-of-the-season stretch but the last couple tournaments haven’t been as good. I still feel like I’m playing well and I expect good things this week, especially at Indian Creek which sets up well for me. I feel I’m playing well enough to do well there.”

Gutschewski also has good feelings about being back at Indian Creek. He tied for second two years ago when the tour returned to Omaha for the first time since 2013.

“I would say I’m doing pretty well except the short game, which is not where it needs to be,’’ he said. “It’s kind of the difference between top-10 and top-20 finishes and missing the cut by one or two.”

He’ll have his son Luke caddie for him this week. It’s a much safer choice given the bizarreness the pro has dealt with in caddies this season. He’s had three who had to leave him because of family members who were ill and soon passed away.

“It’s just been a weird year,’’ Gutschewski said. “It’s my first year where I’ve not had a steady caddie.”

Schaake leads qualifier

Four-time Nebraska Amateur champion Alex Schaake of Omaha takes a one-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round of the Indian Creek Invitational, which gives its winner a spot in the Pinnacle Bank Championship.

Schaake’s 3-under 69 could have been better. He double-bogeyed the final hole. Next with 70s are Husker senior Tanner Owen and incoming Kansas freshman Luke Kluver of Norfolk. The final threesome tees off at 1:20 p.m.

At 71 are Nebraska Amateur runner-up Caleb Badura of Aurora, 2017 Indian Creek winner Jace Guthmiller of Yankton, South Dakota (a former Husker), Noah Hofman of McCook and Josh Wilson of Papillion. Last year’s qualifier, Nate Vontz of Lincoln, opened with a 78.

Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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