Playoff decides Mullen Pro-Am title

Monday, June 9, 2003

For the first time in the 12-year history of the John Mullen Pro-Am, an extra hole was needed to decide the outcome.

Kurt Osborn of Bellevue defeated three-time champion Renne Sasse of York in a one-hole playoff Sunday to win the professional championship.

The two-day tournament was played at McCook's Heritage Hills Golf Course.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the McCook Community Hospital Health Foundation.

Osborn and Sasse finished with 5-under-par 139s in regulation.

Justin Herron finished third with a 141 score, followed by Jay Hunter at 144 and Travis Hurst 145.

Greg Ernst

There was a three-way tie for sixth between 2002 champion Tom Hearn, Cambridge professional Matt Shaner and 2000 champion Shane Zywiec at 146.

Sasse, who won the Pro-Am in 1992-93-95, helped the foursome of Bill Davis, Anthony Davis, Rick Klug and Mark Lake capture the amateur team title with a 399 score.

The Brian Efner Moore-led team of John Nothnagel, Nick Nothnagel, Jim Hager and Dan Owens and pro Efner-Moore placed second at 404.

Third place went to the Zywiec-led team of Chris Nix, Doug Frank, Charlie Goll and Danny Hurt with a 405.

Fourth place went to the Steve Grosz-led team of Brian Michaelis, Kevin Michaelis, Scott Sinclair and Kent Craw with a 409.

Sharleen Crowe, executive director for the McCook Community Health Foundation, said the tournament was a success, despite miserable conditions Saturday brought on by wind, rain and cold.

"It went flawlessly well," said Crowe, who added that the tournament was delayed just once Friday because of rain.

"The weather was beautiful Sunday."

The tournament raised $13,026 for the McCook Community Hospital Health Foundation. By GENE O. MORRIS, Publisher

With birdies on four of the last five holes, Greg Ernst of Gering captured the 2003 Odyssey Shootout championship Friday evening at the John Mullen Pro-Am Health & Heritage Classic.

It was Ernst's second title in three years of competing in the event, popularly known as the "Horse Race." A traveling pro, Ernst won the title in his first year of competition, 2001, and placed fourth in 2002 before sweeping to the title again this year.

After playing steadily on the first four holes to stay alive, the smooth-swinging and soft-spoken pro began his birdie barrage on No. 14, which is the long, uphill, par five "Culbertson" hole. He followed that with birdies on 15, 16 and 18.

His only non-birdie was on another par five -- No. 17. On that hole, his drive found the left rough. He swatted out and managed to save par to tie the other two remaining golfers: Matt Shaner of Cross Creek in Cambridge and Ted DeGiacoma of Omaha. In the ensuing chipoff, Ernst and DeGiacomo's shots were closer to the pin, edging out Shaner, who, as a result, placed third in the 30-pro field.

After getting new life, Ernst came back strong, hitting his second shot within a couple of feet on the par four 18th hole. After DeGiacomo's putt from the fringe slid past, Ernst stroked in the short putt for the birdie and the victory.

A 1995 graduate of Gering High School, Ernst now plays out of Monument Shadows in Gering and Destert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has played on the Gateway Tour, and is preparing to play Dakota Tour events this summer.

Southwest Nebraska courses are to his liking, as last fall he won the Tri-Valley Hospital Foundation tournament in Cambridge.

Others who placed in the Odyssey Shootout were: fourth, Mike Stolarskyj; fifth, Mike Bentley; sixth, Greg Wiemers; and, seventh, Lee Maiden.

Wiemers, who now competes out of Omaha, started his golf career during his school days in McCook. Maiden is the golf pro at Heritage Hills.

Many rode in golf cars and others walked up and down the hills on the back nine to follow the event which this year was sponsored by Odyssey Research Services, a pharmaceutical testing firm which is establishing an office in McCook.

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