BEATRICE — It may have been 28 years ago and on a different golf course, but John Sajevic has experience leading the Nebraska Amateur Championship.
“It was a while ago, but I still remember the moment,” Sajevic said. “It was a really great feeling being able to win it. It’d be great to do again, but I’ve got a lot of holes to play.”
Although there are 36 holes left in the tournament, Sajevic has eaten up the Beatrice Country Club course on his way to a two-stroke lead at 8-under after back-to-back rounds of 68 in the 109th Amateur Championship.
“It’s been a really a good start. I’ve made some 15-, 20-, 30-foot putts, and I haven’t made putts like that all summer,” Sajevic said. “The hole is kind of getting in the way. I’ve given myself some decent chances. Just trying to stay out of trouble. Hit fairways and greens. It’s been working so far.”
Sajevic’s 1989 title certainly wasn’t the last time he hoisted a trophy on the golf course; the 61-year-old has been a mainstay on leaderboards around Nebraska for decades.
Recently, the Nebraska Golf Hall of Famer reached the quarterfinals, alongside his son Andy, at the Nebraska Match Play Championship. He also took last year’s Nebraska Senior Amateur Golf Championship, which was the second time he’d earned that honor in his career.
“Just have to take it one day and one hole at time,” Sajevic said.
The Fremont man is one of only 10 players under par in the tournament but will have to fend off last year’s champion, Alex Schaake, who is just two strokes back alongside Lincoln’s David Easley.
Schaake, donning Hawkeyes black and gold, put together a 6-under 66 to jump up the leaderboard after an even-par opening round.
“It’s always fun to come back home and I love wearing my Iowa gear around Nebraskans,” said the Creighton Prep grad and current Iowa golfer.
“It’s great to be in Beatrice at this course. The greens are great, the fairways are really taken care of and I always have fond memories when I play here.”
Those fond memories include winning the Nebraska Junior Amateur Championship by 14 strokes at the Beatrice Country Club when he was just a sophomore, so to say he knows the course would be an understatement.
“The first three days at that tournament I didn’t shoot what I did today, so that gives me a lot of confidence moving into the weekend,” Schaake said. “I’m really looking forward to getting out here again.”
Omaha’s Kade Brown shot a 7-under 65 Friday to rocket up the leaderboard. He’s fourth at 3-under, while Max Rudder of Lincoln is tied for fifth a stroke back.