Husker Recruit Wins Junior State Match Play Title
It was a breakthrough win for York's Reed Malleck at the 31st Nebraska Junior Match Play Championship at Oakland Golf Club on Friday, as he defeated Omaha's Josh Kramer, 3 and 1, in the Final.
Malleck, who will play for the Huskers in the fall, was a top-3 seed each of the previous three years, but never made it past the quarterfinals. This year, he was the No. 13 seed, but nothing was going to stop him from reaching the top.
After a difficult day of weather on Thursday, conditions could not have been better for Friday's final match. Temperatures were cool and the wind was essentially non-existent.
Malleck striped a drive down the first fairway and his short wedge shot into the green nearly spun back into the hole. Kramer conceded the birdie, and Malleck took the lead and never relinquished it.
On the short par-4 fourth hole, Malleck nearly drove the green and chipped up close for another conceded birdie, pushing his lead to 2 up. After winning the fifth hole with a par, it looked like he would take a third straight win on the par-3 sixth hole. Malleck's tee shot was the perfect distance, finishing about 12 feet from the hole. Kramer missed the green left and had a near-impossible pitch, but hit it to about 15-feet and sank the putt to save par. Malleck missed and his lead remained at 3 up.
The players traded wins over the next several holes and Malleck stepped up to the par-3 13th tee with a 2 up lead. With a treacherous front, right hole location just over the pond, Malleck went right at the flag. His shot settled within five feet of the hole and he rolled in the birdie to get his lead back to 3 up.
Malleck had a chance to close out the match on No. 15, but his birdie putt stayed out and Kramer's par putt fell in. Another chance to win came on No. 16, but Malleck's par putt missed wide left.
The par-5 17th hole ended many matches during the week, including the girls' final the day before. Both players hit driver off the tee and were able to go for the green with their second shots. Kramer's attempt finished just short of the green in the fairway, while Malleck's was placed perfectly in the middle of the green, hole-high.
Likely needing to make it, Kramer's chip trailed off to the right and finished about six-feet away. Malleck hit a good putt to just outside of a foot, and the putt and match were conceded after Kramer's birdie putt missed.