KEARNEY - Matthew Schaefer’s successful golf career at Cedar Catholic ended last Wednesday with a runner-up finish at the 2018 NSAA Class C Boys Golf Championship at Kearney Country Club.
Over the course of the two day tournament, Schaefer shot two rounds of a 73 to finish with a 146. He was a stroke shy of tying Chase Largen of Creighton. Schaefer and Largen are familiar competitors, and even played on the same team this past Fall.
Over the last two or three years, I have really gotten to know him well through golf starting in the school year and carrying that over through the summer and into the Fall,” said Schaeger. “He is a really good player and even a better person. He is a lot of fun to play with. He is always smiling and always keeping things relaxed.”
Largen is the only player to defeat Schaefer this year, doing so at Districts as well as State. The two played both rounds together in Kearney, with each player holding the lead at one point.
Largen started with the lead on day two after shooting a one under 70. Schaefer soon tied Largen with a birdie on hole four, and then took the lead when the Creighton senior bogeyed hole six.
Schaefer did not realize he had the lead though.
“Going into the back nine I actually thought we were tied, but after the round I looked at it and I was one up,” said Schaefer. “The other two kids we were playing with weren’t playing terrible but we knew they weren’t quite there. So Chase and I knew that it was between us. Going into the last few holes especially we knew it was between us.”
Both players started their back nine with four consecutive pars. As pressure intensified with the close of each hole, so did the wind.
“The wind really picked up the last few holes,” said Schaefer. “It was gusting pretty bad. On 14, I doubled out. I hooked my tee shot left and then didn’t have much of a look and I had to punch.”
Largen bogeyed the same hole, and the two seniors were tied for the lead. Each followed with a birdie on hole 15 and a par on 16. Schaefer then bogeyed 17 and 18 while Largen parred 17 and bogeyed 18 to win the individual championship.
“On 17, the first bogey I hit what was probably a perfect tee shot and the wind just took it into the longer grass, and I ended up needing to take an unplayable,” said Schaefer. “Then on 18, I hit two good shots to the green but then I just three putted. The first putt got away from me. It was a little quicker than it looked.”
The senior was not disappointed with how he played though, as always he kept everything in perspective.
“Overall, I wasn’t that far off, it was just a few swings and a putt that made a difference.”
Schaefer found himself fighting for the championship at the end of day two, but his beginning to day one was a little rocky. The scratch golfer bogeyed hole two and double bogeyed hole four to begin his round +3 through four holes. The senior kept a level head though, and parred the next 12 holes before finishing his round with a birdie and a par for a +2 round of 73.
Schaefer continued that into the next day, with a birdie on hole four, and a par on the other 12 holes to begin his round.
“I started out three over through four on the first day, and I knew I wasn’t that far off. Then I had 12 pars in a row and on most of those I had birdie putts that lipped out. So I knew it was really close and it was just a matter of making some putts to get over the hump,” said Schaefer. “Finishing like that the first day and carrying it over into the second really helped knowing that some putts were going to fall and that it was going to go a little better.”
Now, Schaefer’s plans are to attend Northeast Community College in Norfolk in the Fall, with plans to transfer to a four year school. Schaefer will play golf at Northeast, and hopes to continue that career wherever he lands to finish his degree after.