It’s hard to put any blame on the Nebraska PGA Section for deciding not to hold the Nebraska qualifier for the Pinnacle Bank Championship this season.
In fact, the decision was an easy one, because Ryan Vermeer made it that way.
The director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha has been playing some of the best golf of his life over the last year, winning the 2018 PGA Professional Championship and finishing eighth in the event this year.
In mid-may, Vermeer became the first Nebraska teaching pro to make the cut at the PGA Championship. He’s played in a handful of PGA Tour events as well, including the Rocket Mortgage Championship where Nebraskan Nate Lashley was the winner, and last week’s John Deere Classic.
“I won the biggest tournament of my life (in 2018), and it has opened a lot of doors for me,” Vermeer said at this year’s Pinnacle Bank Championship media day. “The ride I’ve been on has been pretty amazing.”
Vermeer also played in last year’s event at The Club at Indian Creek, missing the cut, and was relishing the chance to give it another go this year.
“I’m extremely excited. I’ve been hoping something cool would happen for myself with the way things have gone,” Vermeer said. “I know it’s hard to get into these things. Still, I was very excited to get that call.”
Here’s a look at the other golfers with Nebraska ties in the field.
He’s back, playing in his second professional golf tournament one year after qualifying for the Pinnacle Bank Championship by winning the Nebraska qualifier at ArborLinks.
With the Nebraska qualifier not available, Kluver got in by winning last weekend’s two-day Indian Creek Invitational on the tournament course, posting a pair of 2-under 70s to edge University of Nebraska golfer Tristan Nelko by one shot.
Kluver also earned a measure of revenge on four-time Nebraska Amateur champion Alex Schaake, who finished two shots back.
In last year’s event, Kluver showed well despite missing the cut. With the largest galleries of the tournament following him, Kluver opened with a 3-over 74 before rallying with a even-par 71 the next day to miss the cut by four shots. He ended up with the same score as Lashley.
Kluver will play with Vermeer on Thursday and Friday, teeing off at 8:52 a.m. on No. 10 Thursday morning.
The McCook native made the cut in Elkhorn last season, but couldn’t build momentum in finishing in a tie for 62nd.
Crick, 31, needs some strong performances as the season enters the home stretch. He currently sits 151st in the Korn Ferry Tour’s point standings, and has missed his last three cuts. His best finish this season is a tie for 19th at the Dormie Network Classic in late April.
Another golfer in need of a jump-start, Gutschewski has missed five of his last six cuts as he works to secure playing status for next season.
Playing on a medical extension, Gutschewski has shown flashes of good play this season. He finished ninth at the BMW Charity Pro-Am in early June, and has three other top-25 finishes this season.
This is the definition of a home game for Gutschewski, who lives in Elkhorn with his family. He tied for second in the inaugural Pinnacle Bank Championship two years ago.