Arron Lickteig didn’t exactly mind the position he was in as he woke up Sunday morning.
He was five shots back of first place heading into the final round of a major golf tournament.
He was okay with that, though.
“I was thinking, ‘You have to do something this final day,’ so I was going out there and having fun,” Lickteig said.
That ‘something’ proved to be an impressive final 18 holes — well, actually 19 holes.
Lickteig, a Freeman High School graduate and former University of Wyoming golfer, rallied to tie Matthew Schaefer for first place and then beat him in a one-hole playoff for the amateur title in the American Foods Group Pro-Am at Yankton’s Fox Run Golf Course.
Thanks to an 18-hole score of 66 on Sunday, Lickteig came all the way back to tie Schaefer for a three-day score of 212. The two then went to a playoff hole, which Lickteig won on a birdie putt.
All on his home course, too.
“I always feel pretty confident coming back here,” Lickteig said. “You always have to come out and play, so it’s no gimme. But I feel comfortable here.”
After a short break after finishing their rounds, the two former area standouts — Schaefer is a Hartington (Nebraska) Cedar Catholic graduate — went back to the No. 18 tee box for their playoff hole.
Each golfer’s first shot landed within feet of each other, behind some weeds adjacent to the water hazard.
Lickteig’s second shot then landed on the green, about 5-6 feet from the pin.
“I had that same shot on the final hole, but I took it a club less and it felt good right away,” he said.
Schaefer’s second shot, however, sailed left of the green.
“That was probably the worst wedge shot I had all week,” Schaefer said later.
Still, though, he gave himself a chance.
Schaefer quickly recovered from his second shot by chipping to within three feet of the hole, which forced Lickteig to sink his ensuing putt to win the title.
“I hit a good chip and put some pressure on Arron to make a putt,” Schaefer said.
Despite coming up just short in the playoff, Schaefer was arguably the most consistent amateur golfer in the field over the three rounds: His scores were 69 (under par), 72 (par) and 71 (under par).
“To come out of it like that feels pretty good,” Schaefer said. “That’s the positive I can take from it.”
While Lickteig has completed his college golf career and is now working as an operator at a gas plant in Colorado, Schaefer’s college career is about to see a major change.
He spent last year at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska, but will this fall attend South Dakota State where he will have three years of golf eligibility with the Jackrabbits.
Schaefer said he had been in contact with SDSU coaches while he was still in high school, but is nonetheless excited to get to Brookings to test himself against Division I competition.
“It’ll be really competitive and I’m excited to put myself in a spot to play in good tournaments all over the country,” Schaefer said.
Thomas Reynolds finished third in the amateur division with a three-day score of 225, followed in the top-five by Julean Michels (228) and Korey Krienitz (231).
In the professional division, Carson Schaake (Omaha, Nebraska) beat Andre Metzger (Sioux Falls) and Gregory Robarge (Ventura, California) in a four-hole playoff for the title. All three men finished with a three-round score of 205, while Kevin Kring (Springfield, Missouri) and Peter Skirpstas (Jacksonville, North Carolina) tied for fourth place at 206.
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