Courtesy: NGA

Birdies were abundant during the first round of the 111th Nebraska Amateur Championship, but it was Lincoln’s Jace Guthmiller who rose to the top on Monday at The Country Club of Lincoln.

Guthmiller tied the lowest first round score in Nebraska Amateur history, shooting a 65 (-7) to take a two-stroke lead into the second round. The former Husker golfer’s round ties Lincoln’s Steve Friesen (1998) and McCook’s Brandon Crick (2006) for the lowest opening round. Guthmiller opened with a birdie, but after four straight pars and a bogey, he was back to even-par after six holes.

Then he caught fire, making birdie on No. 7 and then an eagle-3 on No. 8, to make the turn in 33 (-3). Four more birdies dropped on the back nine, including a birdie-birdie finish, gave him a closing 32 (-4). Only Lincoln’s Knox Jones (1977, 8-under) has been more under-bar in a single round in the Nebraska Amateur, and Guthmiller is the sixth player to shoot a 7-under 65.

Fernando Arzate of Bellevue was the leader for most of the day, until Guthmiller finished late in the evening. Arzate, a former Bellevue University golfer from Mexico, opened with an electric front nine. He made an eagle-2 on the par-4 second hole, and followed with birdies on Nos. 3, 5 and 6 to get to 5-under. After his front nine 31 (-5), Arzate played even-par golf the rest of the way, bouncing back from a bogey on No. 17 to birdie No. 18 and post the low round of the morning wave, a 67 (-5).

Two decorated players are one more stroke back after 18 holes, including the 2019 Nebraska Match Play Champion Caleb Badura of Aurora and the 2017 and 2018 Nebraska Junior Golfer of the Year, Luke Kluver of Norfolk. Badura opened with three straight birdies, Kluver closed with three straight, and both players shot a round of 68 (-4) to get into a tie for third, three strokes back.

Playing alongside Kluver, Nate Vontz of Lincoln and Noah Hofman of McCook also shot sub-70 rounds. Both players shot rounds of 69 (-3), and are tied for fifth with Omaha’s Grant Jabenis. Two three-time champions are in a four-way tie for eighth, including the three-time defending champion Alex Schaake of Omaha, who bounced back from a tough opening nine to make four birdies on his back nine and shoot 70 (-2). Matching his score was the 2010, 2011 and 2013 champion Andy Sajevic of Omaha, who made two birdies and an eagle for his back nine 32 (-4). John Spellerberg of Bennington, Josh Bartels of Lincoln and Matthew Schaefer of Fordyce also are in with rounds of 70 (-2).

The 2003 and 2004 champion AJ Elgert of Lincoln finished birdie-birdie to shoot 71 (-1), and he’s tied for 12th. The 1989 champion John Sajevic of Fremont is tied for 20th after a 74 (+2), while 2002 champion Ryan Nietfeldt of Elkhorn is tied for 30th at 75 (+3). The last Nebraska Amateur Champion at The Country Club of Lincoln, Jayson Brueggemann of Lincoln, is tied for 41st after a 76 (+4).