PARKER, Colo. — It’s off to the United States Golf Association’s Mid-Amateur Championship once again for Brookville native Nathan Smith starting this weekend.
Smith tees off Saturday for the first of two stroke qualifying rounds at the Colorado Golf Club and CommonGround Golf Course in Parker and Aurora Colorado.
Saturday, Smith tees off at 1:24 p.m. local time at CommonGround, then Sunday it’s 8:39 a.m. at Colorado Golf Club.
To get to the 64-man match-play tournament starting Monday, Smith must get into the top 64 with two rounds of stroke play, something the four-time Mid-Am champion didn’t do last year when he finished one stroke over the playoff cut of 5-over-par.
This year, he might be taking some momentum into the USGA event, winning last week’s Western Pa. Amateur Golf Association’s Mid-Am title at Williams Golf and Country Club in Wierton, W.V.
Smith shot a two-round 14-under-par 130 for a five-stroke win over Rick Stimmel. It was his fourth WPGA Mid-Am title.
“It’s great timing,” Smith agreed. “I feel good about my game and I’ll go out and learn course and altitude ... I feel good about my game. I think it’s changed for me over time. Now you’re in your 40s playing 25-year-olds … you have to play well in this.”
The Mid-Am is open to amateurs 25 years and older. Smith won his first as a 25-year-old. He’s now 41.
“I’m not in my 20s any more,” said Smith. “I’m not going to sneak up on anyone. I’m enjoying it, it’s great to be playing and it was nice to go out and play well last week. This field is deep, but anything can happen.”
Nobody wants to face Smith in match play at the Mid-Am, although he has to qualify first.
Smith won the Mid-Am in 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Smith was eliminated in the second round of match play in 2013 and 2014 while nearly missing the match play cut and taking defending champion Scott Harvey 20 holes before bowing out in the first round in 2015.
The winner of the tournament receives the Robert T. Jones Memorial Mid-Amateur Trophy and most likely that much-sought after invitation to next April’s Master’s.
“I don’t know where I’d be without this tournament,” Smith said. “The four titles trump everything and everything I’ve done is because of this, the Masters, the Walker Cups. I’ll be trying hard to make some noise here again.”
Smith heads into this weekend not only as the winningest Mid-Am in USGA history with his four titles, but as the No. 2-ranked golfer on the Mid-Am’s match play wins list with 34. At 34-8 overall, he’s actually tied with Tim Jackson behind Jerry Courville Jr.’s 36 wins. Smith won 16 straight match play rounds, also a tournament record, from 2009 through 2011.
Monday is the first round of match play, followed by two rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, setting up a 36-hold final next Thursday.
Smith will be back in Brookville over Homecoming weekend as well. He’s getting inducted into the second class of Brookville Area High School’s Hall of Fame on Oct. 4.
“I’m honored,” Smith said. “So many more people deserve this than me, but I love Brookville and so many people helped and supported me through the years. To be going in with this class is an honor.”