Galloway Township, N.J. – Nathan Smith, 34, of Pittsburgh, shot an even-par 71 Thursday in leading Pennsylvania to the early second-round lead at the 2012 USGA Men’s State Team Championship at the par-71, 6,963-yard Galloway National Golf Club.
Smith’s teammate Sean Knapp, 50, of Oakmont, Pa., added a 2-over 73 for a 36-hole total of 4-over 288.
Georgia stood in second position among the early finishers at 6-over 290. California and Iowa, which were tied for second after Wednesday’s first round, had afternoon starting times.
First-round leader North Carolina struggled on Wednesday, shooting 155 to fall seven strokes back of Pennsylvania at 295.
The USGA Men’s State Team Championships consists of 54 holes of stroke play, with two of the lowest three individual scores counting as the team total for the round. The team with the lowest aggregate score following the final round on Friday is the champion.
The Men’s State Team Championship is conducted biennially by the United States Golf Association. The men’s and women’s competitions are held in alternating years. Each state is responsible for selecting its team and the players must reside in that state to be eligible. All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are represented in the 2012 field.
Smith, who last week won his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur title and has represented the USA on two Walker Cup Teams, rebounded from a double-bogey 6 on his first hole, the par-4 10th, by carding a 2-under 33 on his second nine. He birdied holes three and nine to go with seven pars.
“It was tougher for us because we had to go off on the backside at 7:15 [a.m.],” said Smith, who admitted he didn’t feel comfortable until he signed his scorecard. “That’s a lot of golf course. I think the pins were a little harder.”
Knapp, one of two amateurs to make the cut at this summer’s U.S. Senior Open, also struggled on his outward nine with three bogeys, but regrouped coming to the clubhouse. His 1-under 34 on the second nine was bolstered by birdies at Nos. 1 and 8.
“You can’t give up out here,” Knapp said. “Any hole you can make an ‘X’. It’s important to stay in the game. The whole day is about being patient.”
Georgia’s William Mitchell, 48, of Roswell, shared the best round of the morning by posting a 2-under-par 69. After turning in 2-over 38, his spotless second nine featured four birdies and five pars.
“I really want to do well for the guys, said Mitchell, whose teammate Dave Noll Jr, of Dalton, shot a 76. “I am almost 50 and feel that this is going to be my last State Team the way we do our State Team [selections]. I hate to put too much pressure on myself, but I just said, [heck] with it and I got a little freed up. If I put a doughnut on the board, I put a doughnut on the board.”
North Carolina’s second-round scorecard was 15 shots higher than the previous day. Scott Harvey, of Greensboro, had the team’s best score with a 75, while his other two teammates were both in the low 80s. Bruce Woodall, who had a 69 on Wednesday, struggled to an 82.
“Hopefully, we didn’t completely shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Paul Simson, the 2010 USGA Senior Amateur champion from Raleigh who had an 80. “The course is set up difficult and we just did not play as well.”
Tennessee’s Todd Burgan, 43, of Powell, matched the best round in the morning wave with a 69. The 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur semifinalist had five birdies on the card to against three bogeys, two of which came on three-putts at Nos. 1 and 8. Tennessee, which won this title in 2003, sat third among the early 36-hole finishers at 9-over 293.
Brian DePasquale is a manager of championship communications. Email him at email@example.com.