Nathan Smith adds another title

Posted September 13, 2016 - By Mike Dudurich, Freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich

Nathan Smith with his father, Larry, at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. (Photo courtesy of USGA)

Nathan Smith knows about winning. He’s won five USGA championships, his name is featured prominently throughout West Penn Golf Association’s record book, which shows him to have 24 WPGA victories coming into 2016.

He’s added Nos. 25 and 26 this year, first at the Spring Stroke Play Championship and the most recent came last week at the Mid-Amateur Championship at Wildwood Country Club.

Smith put rounds of 69 and 71 together on his home course and that was enough to beat Mike Marron by two strokes and get his name on the championship trophy for the third time.

“Wildwood played very hard, was firm and fast and it seemed like you were always one swing away from big trouble,"" Smith said. "It's an honor to have won there."

Smith felt the key to the latest victory came late in the front nine of the first day when he birdied the seventh hole and then nearly drove the 312-yard par four ninth and chipped in for eagle.

“That got me going and I just got it around,” he said. “I’ve been playing pretty well all year and it just continued at Wildwood.”

It’s not been a normal year for Smith, who took a chunk of the summer off because of business commitments, but when he has played it’s been good.

“Yeah, I won the Stroke Play, just missed the cut at the U.S. Amateur, played well at Sunnehanna and the Northeast Amateur,” he said. “But what’s becoming more and more apparent is that you have to play great, even in local events in the West Penn. Guys are just so good and fields are getting deeper and deeper.”

Ten players finished within 10 shots of the lead at Wildwood with only Smith, Marron and Rick Stimmel, who tied for second, were able to finish under par. Only seven rounds under par were posted all day.

Stimmel opened the morning with a round of 68 and had a one-stroke lead over Smith and two shots over Mike Maroon of Parker. But in the afternoon, Stimmel began the round on the back nine and posted struggled to bogey and double bogey on that nine and also had a triple bogey on the front.

Michael Garcia of Erie shot 68 in the afternoon and finished in a tie for fourth with Erik Bertrand of Pittsburgh.

Marron made nine birdies in 36 holes, but the difference for him for him in the end was a triple-bogey on the 17th hole in the first round.

Doug Pfingstler of DuBois made headlines by making an ace on Wildwood’s 225-yard eighth hole during a first-round 73.

The day after the victory, Smith was in his car headed toward Elverson, Pa. where he’ll compete in the U.S. Mid-Amateur starting this weekend. He’ll join Arnie Cutrell and Rick Stimmel for the event that starts Saturday.

“I played this course, Stonewall Links, one time this summer,” Smith, who has won the U.S. Mid-Am four times, said. “There’s a lot of elevation changes here. It’s a different course. It’s tough and will be interesting.”