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Sara Knaub tees off on hole No. 16 during the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club Sunday.

Seven years ago, Sara Knaub — then Sara Wissing — won the women’s division of the Five Points Bank Open with a score of 144. That was her second consecutive championship in the event, and the score still to this day marks the lowest the tournament has seen in the Ladies Flight. That year also marked the final year Knaub played in the tournament.

Until this year, that is.

Knaub may not have broken her lowest score record, but she picked up right where she left off, cruising to a championship in the Ladies Flight once again.

“I was nervous how I’d feel, having been out for so long, but I think I thrive in the competition setting,” Knaub said.

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Left: Casey St. John chips onto the green at hole No. 9 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club. Right: Shelly Hartford chips onto the green at hole No. 15 Sunday during the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club.

Knaub fired a 76 on the first day of the Hastings Open at Southern Hills Golf Course, and then she followed that with a 75 at Lochland Country Club. Her two-day total of 151 was 24 strokes better than the next-best score.

“(The first day) was mostly pars and birdies. I had an out of bounds for a seven, a triple, and then I had a double, so without some of those holes it could have been better,” Knaub said. “(Today) it all just went good. My putter felt good, and then I got to the back and I think I had four three putts. So, there were four strokes that shouldn’t have been there.”

Knaub went into Sunday’s final round of the tournament with a 13-stroke lead. She said the first nine holes at Lochland gave her hope that she could be experiencing one of her best days on the course. But the back nine kept her from reaching the all-time mark.

Still, Knaub was happy with the way she played in her first competitive setting since 2011.

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Mitch Oswald watches his drive on hole No. 4 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club.

“I tried not to think about (the lead). I tried to forget about it and focus on shooting a good round,” she said. “I wish the back would have gone a little better, but I’m happy with it for my first time back.”

The Championship Flight also had a new winner, and it was a golfer that took advantage of the tournament extending its player eligibility area. The Hastings Open began accepting entries from places like Grand Island and Kearney, and, thankfully for Mitch Oswald, Aurora was also in the extended coverage area.

“I heard about this (tournament) and that they opened it up to kind of the outside people this year. It’s a great tournament and great courses to play. I love playing Southern Hills and here (Lochland),” Oswald said. “It’s great to be back down here and play some of these great courses.”

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Jared Blackwell reacts to his putt on hole No. 9 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club. Laura Beahm 06-30-19

Oswald dueled 2017 tourney winner Casey St. John by one stroke, winning the title with a 153. He was up two strokes on St. John on the 18th hole, forcing the runner-up to go for the pin on his chip shot to hopefully put pressure on Oswald. But St. John’s shot went just by the hole, allowing the Aurora native to safely putt his way to victory.

“It felt good for as poorly as I played, left a lot of strokes out there,” Oswald said. “I didn’t get in trouble off the tee much but I couldn’t get putts to fall.

“The only thing that was a problem was around the green. Approach shots weren’t a bad deal. Some of the par 3s got me, they were playing 220 (yards), 225 or so. If you’re hitting it well here you’re going to be fine, but if you’re missing in the wrong spots it will definitely hurt you.”

This was Oswald’s first time competing in the tournament, but he hopes that he can make it back next year to defend his title.

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Casey St. John chips onto the green at hole No. 9 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club. Laura Beahm 06-30-19

“I’d love to come back here next year. We’ll see what the summer brings,” Oswald said. “Me and my wife are expecting our first child in October, so I don’t know what the summer is going to look like with that. But, I would for sure like to come back out here and play.”

Extending the coverage area played a big part in there being more competitors in this year’s Hastings Open. Five Points Bank, the tourney’s primary sponsor, president Terry Anstine was pleased to see the rise in popularity for the tournament.

“We hope the trend to keep going like this,” he said. “The courses are just wonderful. I would hope the out of towners would go back and tell their friends about the courses. I think that’s where our growth is going to come from.”

St. John’s second-place finish is the fourth top-three finish in the last four years. Shelly Hartford had won the last five championships in the Ladies Flight but took home second place on Sunday. Marge Klein won first-place low net for the women’s division, shooting a 68 and 69 for a 137, after factoring in handicap.

Christian Steele won the top prize in the Presidential Flight with a two-day score of 157 (80-77). Scott Propp (80-84, 164) took first in the First Flight, and Ray Bonifas won the Second Flight with a 176 (84-92). In the third flight, Lynn Burge (92-99, 191) won first place low gross, while Walt Dieken (71-69, 140) won first place low net.

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Left: Nathan Sughroue putts at hole No. 3 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club. Right: Jared Blackwell reacts to his putt on hole No. 9 Sunday while competing in the Hastings Open at Lochland Country Club.

There was a four-way tie for low gross championship in the Senior Flight. Scot Smith (75-85), Murray Wilson (78-82), Bill Biggs (80-80), and Barry Ballou (79-81) all shot a 160 to take the top prize. Dan Zabloudil earned first low net in the seniors division, shooting a 140 (67-73).

Championship Flight

1, Mitch Oswald 74-79 153; 2, Csey St. John 75-79 154; 3, Alex Thayer 79-76 155; 4, Jared Blackwell 78-79 157; T5, Brad Novich 80-78 158; T5, Mike Sabata 79-79 158

Ladies Flight

(low gross) 1, Sara Knaub 76-75 151; 2, Shelly Hartford 89-86 175; 3, Karen Johnson 95-91 186; (low net) 1, Marge Klein 68-69 137; 2, Becky Maul 73-68 141; 3, Vera Zabloudil 70-73 143

Presidential Flight

1, Christian Steele 80-77 157; 2, Scott Voightman 76-90 166; 3, Jeremiah Lepird 79-88 167; 4, Joey Holling 85-83 168; 5, Steve Conover 81-91 172

Senior Flight

(low gross) T1, Barry Ballou 79-81 160; T1 Bill Biggs 80-80 160; T1, Scot Smith 75-85 160; T1, Murray Wilson 78-82 160; (low net) 1, Dan Zabloudil 67-73 140; T2, Allan McClure 71-72 143; T2, Rich Portwood 83-82 143

First Flight

1, Scott Propp 80-84 164; T2 Darren Glass 77-89 166; T2, Gary Pechar 81-85 166; 4, Wayne Hesman 82-86 168; 5, John Welch 87-86 173; 6, John Bartunek 87-87 174

Second Flight

1, Ray Bonifas 84-92 176; 2, William O’Donnell 93-87 180; 3, Terry Gerber 88-93 181; T4, Mark Dickey 92-90 182; T4, Brian Keever 86-96 182; T4, Brad Lindblad 91-91 182; T4, Scott Sawyers 89-93 182

Third Flight

(low gross) 1, Lynn Burge 92-99 191; 2, Phil Maynard 93-101 194; (low net) 1, Walt Dieken 71-69 140; T2, Steve Ernst 78-73 151; T2, Bill Esser 69-82 151

All-time winners

Championship Flight

2019 — Mitch Oswald 153

2018 — Mike Skeen 152

2017 — Casey St. John 149

2016 — Jordan McIntyre 145

2015 — Jon Smith 150

2014 — Josh Hinrichs 142

2013 — Mike Skeen 145

2012 — Mike Hannon 146

2011 — Mike Hannon 142

2009 — Jon Smith 142

2008 — Mike Skeen 146

2007 — Jon Smith 148

2006 — Paul Wahlmeier 146

2005 — Jon Smith 150

2004 — Tim Marchese 145

2003 — Paul Reinertson 142

2002 — Barry Meyer 147

2001 — Barry Meyer 148

2000 — Gayle Larson 154

1999 — Nick Vendrak Jr 143

1998 — Bob DeWitt 149

1997 — Seth Porter 153

Ladies Flight

2019 — Sara (Wissing) Knaub 151

2018 — Shelly Hartford 175

2017 — Shelly Hartford 175

2016 — Shelly Hartford 158

2015 — Shelly Hartford 168

2014 — Shelly Hartford 166

2013 — Matti Yurk 165

2012 — Judy Nabower 164

2011 — Sara Wissing 144 (tournament record)

2010 — Sara Wissing 154

2009 — Becky Sullivan 155

2008 — Teri Schafer 176

2007 — Michelle Kluver 151

2006 — Judy Nabower 165

2005 — Bernadine Hughes 189

2004 — Gretchen Ballou 160

2003 — Gretchen Ballou 163

2002 — Michelle Kluver 147

2001 — Michelle Kluver 144 (tournament record)

2000 — Michelle Kluver 157

1999 — Gretchen Ballou 160

1998 — Gretchen Ballou 154

1997 — Gretchen Ballou 159

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