Grand Island, NE – The Nebraska Section PGA kicked off championship season with a dual event at Riverside Golf Club in Grand Island, Nebraska. The Section hosted both their 2023 Nebraska Assistant PGA Professional Championship, presented by National Car Rental and their 2023 Nebraska Senior PGA Professional Championship, presented by Cadillac. The stroke-play championships welcome Nebraska PGA Professionals from all over the Section and qualifying spots were up for grabs in both events for national championships.
Beginning with the Senior Championship, four-time winner Bryan Hughett, PGA of Albion Country Club got off to a hot start on Monday with an opening round of 68 (4-under). His first-round card included a hole-out for eagle on the par 4 – 15th which he managed to make out of the tree line. J.D. Brake, PGA of ArborLinks and Jon Petersen, PGA of Tiburon Golf Club both finished day one with respective 71’s (1-under).
Coming into Tuesday’s final round, the Senior PGA Professionals had the qualifying spots in the back of their mind. The top-four finishers would advance to the 2023 Senior PGA Professional Championship set for PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida later this year in October.
In the first three holes of the final round, Brake cut Hughett’s three-stroke lead to just one after birdies on No. 1 and No. 3. Hughett bounced back with birdies on No. 7 and No. 9 to stretch the lead back to three and he battled off Brake till the very end. Hughett claimed his fifth career victory in the championship and finished at 4-under for the tournament. With a birdie on the last, Brake took home a solo second place finish while Petersen and Tom Hearn, PGA of the PGA Tour finished tied for third at 2-under. With Jim White, PGA MP of The Fairways at Lincoln being exempt into the national championship, the Nebraska Section will send him along with Hughett, Brake, Petersen and Hearn to PGA of America’s event later in 2023.
“My game hasn’t been where I want it for quite some time, so it feels great to come out here and compete how I know I’m capable of. I look forward to going down to Florida with a great group of guys to represent the Nebraska Section once again”, said Hughett.
Jumping to our Assistant Championship, 21 players teed it up vying for the trophy and the lone qualifying spot into the National Car Rental National Assistant Championship. Different from the Senior event, the Assistants played all 36 holes in one day on Monday. Though there were many new names and faces in the field, there was a familiar name at the top for majority of the championship.
Jay Cottam, PGA of Meadowlark Hills Golf Course won the championship for the first time in his young career at Hillcrest Country Club in 2022. Cottam aimed to defend his title in 2023 and opened up his day with a blistering 67 (5-under) to take the lead into the second round. Extremely hot temperatures firmed up the golf course and made it tough on the field during the afternoon round. Cottam knew this and took advantage.
“Building a lead early in the day was huge for my success and allowed me to play more conservative as I coasted throughout my final round”, said Cottam.
For the most part, Cottam played “boring but good golf” for most of the afternoon and carded three birdies to go with three bogies and finished with an even par round of 72 which proved to be enough. Cottam collected his second consecutive win in the championship and punched his ticket to the national event.
“I always look forward to competing on the national stage with it being great experience as a player and I’m excited to represent our Nebraska Section down in Florida”, said Cottam.
We would like to thank our Assistant Championship presenting sponsor National Car Rental as well as our supporting sponsors PGA Tour, Rolex, Cleveland Golf, Srixon and Asics. We would also like to thank our Senior Championship presenting sponsor Cadillac as well as our supporting sponsors PGA Tour, Rolex and Gold Channel. Lastly, we would like to thank Head Golf Professional Dennis Fruchtl, PGA and the entire staff at Riverside Golf Club for hosting us.