Sep. 16—COLUMBUS, Ne. — Two down. 48 more to go.
Ottumwa native Matthew Walker brought home the championship from the 30th edition of the Wells Fargo Nebraska Open, setting a new scoring record in the 54-hole tournament. Walker finished at 18-under-par with a three-round total of 195, beating out Nebraska native Brandon Crick by three shots clinching the title by chipping in a birdie on the 18th hole to close out Tuesday's final round.
"I have experience at this course," Walker, who played his college golf at the University of Iowa, said. "I knew my game plan needed to be to stay in the fairways off the tee and to give myself as many birdie opportunities as I could."
Walker opened the tournament by sharing the Elks Country Club course record with Texas native Brax McCarthy as both golfers fired 10-under-par opening rounds of 61 on Sunday. Walker kept right on scoarching the course during Monday's second round, posting a seven-under par 64 opening a five-shot lead heading into the final round.
Consistency was the theme of the weekend for Walker, posting birdies or better in all three rounds on the sixth, 12th and 18th holes. Walker also set himself up for success on the green, firing shots that created several birdie putts within 12 feet of the hole.
Walker was able to finish the tournament under par for the third straight round despite a change in the weather that brought stiffer winds, clinching a one-under-par 70 to close out the tournament with his chip-in birdie on the 18th. With the win, Walker has now claimed both the Nebraska and Iowa State Opens, winning the second-biggest yearly tournament in the Cornhusker State only behind the Korn Ferry Tour's Pinnacle Bank Championship.
Before winning professional state championships, Walker won two Iowa High School boys state golf championships at Ottumwa High School. Walker has also won three Greater Ottumwa City Championships before heading off to compete collegiately for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Walker is hoping winning the Nebraska Open will continue his progression in pursuing the sport on a professional level. Peter Malanti, a current PGA Tour golfer, used the Nebraska Open to springboard his professional career.