July 19, 2007
LINCOLN, Neb. - Gonzaga University sophomore Brandon Crick of McCook, Neb., held on to win the 99th Nebraska Amateur Championship Thursday by one shot over Trent Price of Lincoln.
Crick finished at 287 after rounds of 69-71-75-72, while Price had rounds of 74-77-67-70.
Crick never relinquished his lead, but bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17 at Firethorn Golf Club reduced his lead to one entering the final hole.
"It was really nerve wracking," Crick said of the decisive 18th hole. "I hit a bad second shot on 16 and not too good of a drive on the par 3 17th. But I made some big putts down the stretch that helped me win it."
Crick, the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year last spring for the Bulldogs, had a 25-foot birdie putt lip out on the 18th that could have wrapped up the title. But after tapping in his 1-footer for par he had to watch as Price lined up a 12-footer for a birdie and the tie. But Price left it short and Crick had his first Nebraska Amateur title after being the runner-up last year. It was the fourth time he has competed in the tournament.
"I think I had a tougher road this year," said Crick, who held the lead last year only to finish second while earning low junior amateur honors at Creek Golf Course in Elkhorn. "Last year I was busy chasing somebody while this year I was busy holding the lead. It was more of a struggle this year. Last year I had a good cushion on the third-place finisher."
He said this is by far his biggest golf thrill.
"I think this is the biggest win for me. I've always wanted to win it, and it's always been the biggest tournament on my agenda," Crick said following his fourth - and most successful - Nebraska Amateur.
Crick said the West Coast Conference competition is very similar to what he faced in the Nebraska Amateur.
"There are a lot of collegiate golfers from Nebraska - a lot of Big 12 Conference players," Crick said. "Plus, the guys who attend the University of Nebraska had the home-course advantage. "This course played much tougher for me than it might have for some other players, and there are some blind shots out there."
Crick said he's looking forward to his sophomore season.
"Coming into Division I golf I didn't know what to expect. But once I qualified and got playing I expected more from myself. I got a win in the fall and had a couple of Top 10 finishes in the spring and that carried over into this summer. I knew I could compete and win at the state level after seeing what I could do in Division I."
And he's hoping this summer carries over into the collegiate season. But first, he's got his sights set on two more stops this summer. The first comes July 30 at the U.S. Amateur qualifying in Elkhorn at a course he shot a 65 at in last year's Nebraska Amateur. And if the momentum of the Nebraska Amateur title carries over to Elkhorn he'll be competing at the U.S. Amateur at storied Olympic Club in San Francisco Aug. 20-26.
"I'd like to go from San Francisco up to Gonzaga," he said.