OMAHA — Luke Kluver made two dramatic putts during his final five holes on Friday at The Club at Indian Creek, and by doing so continued to put a charge into golf in this state by making the weekend cut in a professional tournament for the first time.
The 19-year-old amateur and three-time high school state champion for Norfolk made the cut at the Pinnacle Bank Championship right on the number with a two-day total of even-par 142. The recent high school grad shot 71 on both days.
The biggest putt came on the 18th green, when he made a par putt that looked — and sounded, thanks to the 100 fans from his hometown following him all day — like a winning putt. That’s because he had to make the putt to advance to the weekend. Now he's the third-youngest player to make the cut on the Omaha stop of the Korn Ferry Tour.
The tournament is one step below the PGA Tour and the purse is worth $600,000, including $108,000 to the winner. Kluver, however, won’t collect a check in order to stay eligible for college golf.
Standing on the tee box on the par-4 18th, Kluver knew he had to make par to make the cut. But his tee shot landed in a fairway bunker, and with an awkward stance, all he could do was advance his ball up the fairway, instead of going for the green.
That meant he had to get up and down from 93 yards out on one of the toughest holes on the course. Kluver was up to the challenge, landing his approach shot about 8 feet from the hole.
“We knew left of the pin was going to be the best chance to make 4 there,” Kluver said. “And to do it in front of all these people behind me, and the people in the grandstand, it was pretty sweet.”
— Korn Ferry Tour (@kornferrytour) July 20, 2019
With a load of pressure, Kluver made the putt.
“The ball went right in the middle, and I’m excited to play this weekend,” he said.
Kluver was tied for 57th after the first round and will go into the weekend tied for 52nd. He’ll tee off in the first group Saturday at 7:40 a.m.
With six holes left in the round, Kluver was one shot behind the projected cut line. But on the next hole he made a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th. It was a long putt, but on the final few rolls of the ball, he knew it was good and raised his putter and pumped his fist.
“I saw that one was going in and gave it a little putter raise. It was a big one,” Kluver said.
Just before the putt he had looked at the large leaderboard left of the green and knew he needed a birdie down the stretch to make the cut.
“It was definitely a makeable putt though, and to see that one go in and get me right on the number was definitely a big putt of the round,” Kluver said.
From there, he made par on each of the last four holes to make the cut.
College golf at Kansas will be the next big thing for Kluver, but this felt like another step in his career.
“All of these guys are good,” Kluver said. “They’re all right before the PGA Tour. It’s (the wind) been blowing, the greens have been hard and 11-under is for real out here. To make the cut and beat half of the field is a huge deal.”
It was one week earlier when Kluver won the Indian Creek Invitational, when 69 players played for just one spot in this week's tournament.
Last year, Kluver missed the cut by four shots in this tournament.
Only two of the four Nebraska players in the field made the cut. Tour veteran Scott Gutschewski from Omaha is tied for seventh. Gutschewski shot a 6-under par 65 on Friday to vault up the leaderboard. At one point he made five birdies in a six-hole stretch.
Ryan Vermeer, a teaching pro in Omaha and Millard South graduate, missed the cut by five shots. McCook native Brandon Crick also missed the cut.
Former Oklahoma State golfer Kristoffer Ventura is the leader at 11-under par.