Woltman wins Nebraska Open
Dan Woltman stepped away from the game for half a year.
The Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, native finished his second season on the Web.com Tour money list in the triple digits and lost his tour card for the following season.
Without a regular schedule to follow, he instead went back to the drawing board and rebuilt every phase of his game.
Nearly a year after being cut from the tour, Woltman has won his past for events and is most certainly riding a wave of momentum to qualifying school in three weeks.
Sunday, at the Elks Country Club, Woltman captured the Nebraska Open on the third playoff hole for his fourth win in the past six weeks.
The Nebraska Open is a tournament held annually by the Nebraska Section of the PGA. This year’s tournament included over 140 players from across the country, the involvement of title sponsor Wells Fargo and a $13,000 prize check to the winner.
The Tournament has been held since 1992 in a partnership between the Nebraska section of the PGA, the Nebraska Golf Association and Nebraska Public Power District.
In the past 27 years, more than $1.5 million has bee raised for the scholarship fund of the five community college systems within NPPD’s service area.
“The thing is, when you go through struggles, it only makes you stronger. It makes you appreciate days like this a lot more,” Woltman said Sunday afternoon at Elks.
Woltman was standing just paces away from the green still beaming after bending down to collect his game-winning shot from the bottom of the cup.
“I had a lot of really poor weeks last year when it just wasn’t fun, I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t playing well and it wasn’t enjoyable. I had no idea where the golf ball was going. It helped me grow as a person on the golf course, and it helped me get better; because I knew I had to get better to compete at that level.”
Woltman is a former University of Wisconsin collegiate golfer who played regularly on the Web.com Tour in 2016 and 2017 and has experience at the minor leagues of golf, so to speak, dating back to an appearance in the Chattanooga Classic in 2009.
All-time, he’s collected over $80,000 on the Web.com Tour and has a top finish of fourth at the Rust-Oleum Championship in Illinois two years ago.
A year removed from perhaps the lowest point in his career, Woltman is having fun again.
“I’m just happy with the way I’m playing,” Woltman said. “To be in position to win a couple of events, and now to win four events in a row, it’s not something you plan on.”
Woltman put himself in position for the dramatic finish with four birdies in the last five holes. He came into Sunday three shots back of Andrew Steinhofer, another Wisconsin golfer, who took a two-round lead with a 9-under 62 on Saturday.
Woltman said he struggled to a two-under 69 on Friday then went without a bogey for a 64 on Saturday.
His 6-under 65 close tied him with Brandon Crick of McCook once all the scores were tabulated.
Steinhofer’s 70 left him two shots back of the final playoff spot.
Woltman and Crick started on 16, sank par putts there and on the par-4 17th then stepped up to the box on 18.
It could have ended two holes earlier when Woltman’s birdie putt lipped out just left of the cup.
“I hit a really good putt. With about three feet to go, I’m thinking, ‘There’s no way that’s going to miss. There’s no way,’ and it just broke off at the last second and lipped out. Even though I missed, it was a good shot, it was a good putt,” he said.
“It was frustrating that it didn’t go in, but I knew I was playing well and had to keep that going.”
He overcorrected from two days of spraying it right on 18 and instead pulled it way left over the top of the trees and onto the fairway at 15.
Crick went right 20 feet away from the fairway and was forced to hit a punch shot of sorts to avoid a tree up ahead. With too much speed, his ball rolled up to and over the putting surface.
Woltman measured his distance at 107 yards, grabbed a 52-degree wedge out of the bag and went for it.
“I’ve missed the fairway right on 18 every day. I’m standing on the tee going, ‘You’re not hitting in the right rough again.’ I, unfortunately, pulled it more than I thought I was going to,” he recalled. “But I had a clear shot over the trees, had a good number and it looked like it landed about eight inches short of the cup and went it. It’s a fun way to win.”
He’s made shots like that before, but not with the same stakes on the line.
“Not to win a golf tournament, no,” he said.
It was the completion of the exact type of scenario he told his wife he wanted to experience.
“I told her, ‘I want one of those wins where you come from behind.’ I was three shots back with five to play and knew if I didn’t start making birdies, I wasn’t going to have a chance,” Woltman said. “I birdied four of the last five just to get into the playoff. Then to end on that, on the third playoff hole…that’s special.”
After wins at the Iowa Open on Aug. 3 and the Southwest Kansas Pro-Am a week later, then the Wisconsin Open the week after for three wins in three weeks, the Nebraska Open on Sunday made it four straight.
He arguably couldn’t be playing any better as he looks forward to earning his way back to the Web.com Tour.
“This last winter, I was not in a good place. I played very poorly last year. It was very frustrating, but I changed some things about my golf game and I worked hard and I knew I had the talent to compete. I want my opportunity back out there,” he said.
“The way I’m playing right now, I’m excited about it. I feel I’m going to get to where I want to go eventually.
“If I play like this out there I have a chance. That’s exciting to me.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for The Columbus Telegram. You can reach him via email at email@example.com