Valley, NE – 108 Junior Golfers across the Nebraska Section PGA teed it up at The Pines Country Club for the 2023 Nebraska Junior PGA Championships. Boys 13-15, Girls 13-15, Boys 16-18 and Girls 16-18 made up the four divisions of juniors that competed the past two days in the Section’s biggest junior event of the season. The annual event sends two boys and two girls from the 16-18 divisions to the National Junior PGA Championships. The national event will be held August 1-4th at Hot Springs Country Club in Arkansas.
Beginning with the Girls 16-18 division, the defending champion Nicole Kolbas of Lincoln went wire-to-wire to win once again. She began her two-day tournament run with a round of 70 (two-under) that paced the rest of the field. Her final round of 73 (one-over) kept her as the only girl in the division to shoot in red figures for the championship.
“I fell short of my expectations last year and I think that’s going to motivate me even more this year,” said Kolbas after she qualified for the second time in a row and as she looked back at last year’s experience.
Finishing runner-up in the Girls 16-18 division and qualifying alongside Kolbas was Karsen Morrison of North Platte with her two-day total of 147 (three-over). As she ages out next year, Morrison is more than estatic to qualify in 2023.
“I’m so excited to qualify with this being my last time I can play in this event, and I can’t wait to tee it up in Arkansas for the first time,” said Morrison.
We witnessed a field wide shootout in the Boys 16-18 division over the course of the two days and it was all led by Ashland’s Coltrane Mittag. Like Kolbas, Mittag went wire-to-wire to capture his first title in this event and he ended up with a blistering total of 133 (11-under).
“I just told myself to come out here and play my game without forcing anything, and I’m happy I was able to get it done,” said Mittag after his outstanding bogey-free final round.
Though Mittag was the only one to reach double digits, eight other competitors in the Boys 16-18 division shot under par for the week with one of them being runner-up Connor Steichen of Omaha. Coming in as the defending champion, Steichen made a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff for the last qualifying spot alongside Omaha’s Jacob Cosimano. After the two of them tied at 5-under for the championship, Steichen went on to win on the third playoff hole (No. 18) with a birdie.
“One thing that’s different this time around, I know I can compete nationally,” said Steichen after he competed last year like Kolbas. He hopes to “bring more confidence” to the course at the 2023 national event.
Rounding out our 2023 Nebraska Junior PGA Championship, Omaha’s Knox Pocras fired a two-day total of 151 (seven-over) to win the Boys 13-15 division while Lincoln’s Naryn Kim shot 153 (nine-over) to win the Girls 13-15 division.
We would like to thank General Manager Mike Ten Eyck, PGA, Head Golf Professional Don Dravland, PGA and the entire staff at The Pines Country Club for hosting two outstanding days of this storied championship. We are excited to cheer on our four national qualifiers that will head to Arkansas later this summer to represent our entire Section.