U.S. MID-AMATEUR
Interview With Champion Nathan Smith September 29, 2010 By USGA

PETE KOWALSKI:  We'd like to welcome the 2010 United States Golf Association's Mid‑Amateur Champion, Nathan Smith.  He successfully defended his title and tied Jay Sigel for third Mid‑Amateur Champion:  Only two people have done that.  Before you said that you couldn't get your arms it and you couldn't really realize what you'd done.

With the time in between the last one, have you been able to see what this means, and how are you reacting to it?

NATHAN SMITH:  I don't think so.  Not yet.  I'm just still in shock.  You know, you win one of these and you feel like you hit the lottery.  You never imagine that you're gonna win it three times.

I can't get my arms around it.  I really can't.  It'll take a lot time.  I mean, especially last year when I won it, to be, I guess, medalist or co‑medalist both years, yeah, I'm in a little bit of shock right now.

PETE KOWALSKI:  We'll open it up to questions.  Make sure you speak loudly so we can have the questions and the answers on the transcript.

Q.  Nathan, putting it in a little more perspective, I mean, there's some very good amateur names.  Jay Sigel, David Eger, you must feel some pride being in this company.  What do you feel about it?

NATHAN SMITH:  I'm honored to be even mentioned somewhat in the same sentences with those guys.  You know, they're, you know, on another ballgame in center court.  Like I said, it's just an honor to be associated with them.

Being from Pennsylvania and being aware of how much Jay Sigel has done, I mean, you can't get your arms around that.  And we haven't even talked about Bobby Jones or some other people.  But I'm just honored that you would even mention me in the same sentence as those guys.

     

Q.  Could you have come out any stronger?

NATHAN SMITH:  I don't think so.  I don't think so.  It's funny, you were asking me how did I feel.  I mean, I probably get felt like everybody else did today waking up.  What, 50 holes or something yesterday, and, boom, you got to be out here at 6:00 a.m. again.

I didn't feel great, but I did come out ‑‑ I got off to a quick start, and that's always important.

But then again, a guy like that, with Tim, you get up one are two, and you still have 30 ‑‑ I mean, it's like kind of feel like you have nowhere to go.  Like he's just gonna keep coming after you.  He's that type of player.  So I was just fortunate to hold him off and stay with him.

Q.  Where does that come from?  Because He said it was one of the best (indiscernible) he's ever seen.  He says, I don't know where that came from.  Where did that come from?

NATHAN SMITH:  I don't know.  I've been playing well.  I feel comfortable on this golf course.  I think, you know, it suits up well for my game.  I don't know.  I just try to keep it in front of me and really not give away any holes.  I thought it would be a tough day with the wind, and the last thing I wanted to do was kind of have a foul ball and give away a hole to a double bogey or lost ball.

I just try to kind of keep plodding along and keep it in front of me.  I managed to shoot probably a good number this morning.  I don't even know what I shot.

PETE KOWALSKI:  5‑under.

NATHAN SMITH:  Yeah, that's hard to believe.  I didn't know ‑‑ I didn't even realize I was that far under par.

Q.  Did the wind play into the fact that you had a string of bogeys the second 18?

NATHAN SMITH:  Yeah, absolutely.  Yeah, I'm trying to think.  What was that, 8, 9, and 10, it just was crazy out there for both of us.  Jeez, on No. 8 I think I was trying to punch 8‑iron from 110 yards with like my 150 club.

Then again on 9, we both ‑‑ I think I had 25, 30 feet.  I left mine 10 feet short.  Tim might have been 20 feet and he might have hit it 10 feet.  I mean, the wind was whipping I have no idea, how hard, 30 or 40, I mean, just give or take, and it was just killing the ball.  The greens are so fast.  So those are those two holes.

Then on 10, with my draw, that bunker is like a magnet over there for me.  I just aimed right at the moon.  I was just, I'm not gonna ‑‑ if he makes par there, then he can have the ball, but I'm not gonna hot over there.  So I just aimed way right.

PETE KOWALSKI:  Actually, it was 7, 8, 9, and 10.

NATHAN SMITH:  Oh, yeah.  Actually, I hit a good iron on 7.  Just skipped through and had a bad lie.  I think at that point I was just trying to shadow Tim.  I was trying to make par, but I was just trying to not lose any holes.

It just got really, really tough out there.  Got really fierce really quick.

Q.  Was the game plan going into the morning round a little bit conservative?  Was that because of the conditions?

NATHAN SMITH:  I think a little bit of both.  It's hard to aim at a pin when you're not sure if that's gonna be the right club, because the wind was kind of give or take 20 miles an hour here or there.  When it's whipping 30, it's hard to just take it right out and short side yourself.

So I just kind of wanted to take it right at the middle of the greens.  They had some tough pins out there.  You know, when it's tucked left and the wind is whipping 40 miles on hour to the right, it's just impossible to get to.

So a little bit of both.

Q.  You mentioned before what it means to you to have your dad on the bag.

NATHAN SMITH:  Yeah.

Q.  What was that like for you to have him?

NATHAN SMITH:  As I was saying earlier, probably like a lot of golfers, you know, your dad is usually one of your better friends, if not your best friend.  He understands you more than anybody else.  For him to be on the bag, I can't put into words.

You know, I mean, it was great we could take advantage of it, because I don't know how many more we have left together with him on the bag.  I'm sure he'll do it as long as he can.

Q.  How is he feeling after last night?

NATHAN SMITH:  I can't imagine how he felt, not only physically, but it's just so exhausting to play three matches.  You start the day at 7:00 a.m., and I'm 1‑down on 5 tee and you got to fight back in this match and then you got two more matches.

Even to think about it, it's hard to believe what all the players kind of went through this week.

Q.  How old is he?

NATHAN SMITH:  64.

Q.  And his first name?

NATHAN SMITH:  Larry.

Q.  Tim had mentioned having been to the Masters and wanting to get back.  It's just such a big deal.  Having done that, having been there now twice, I'm curious how it weighed on you at all during today's match?

NATHAN SMITH:  You know, it really didn't.  But, I mean, you don't want to think about that.  I started to think about it last night, and woke up kind of through the night thinking about it.  Tried to get back to sleep.  I doubt Tim or I slept much at all last night.

But I tried to ‑‑ this year, I guess, when I played it, it I tried to just do everything and soak it all in.  You figure this is gonna be your last time every time you're there, because these things are so impossible win.

I'm just in shock that I might be going back.

Q.  (Question regarding Masters experiences.)

NATHAN SMITH:  Um, there's a lot.  Any time you can have just your family down there, driving down Magnolia Lane, I mean, that's pretty much ‑‑ there are so many things, but probably just driving down Magnolia Lane.

Q.  You've obviously had good success in this tournament.  No one has won it more times than you or Jay.  Is there something about this tournament, this level of play, that suits what you need to do to win this tournament as much?

NATHAN SMITH:  I have no idea.  I'm just gonna keep doing what I'm doing.  Maybe there's a formula there, but I think it's just I understand my game.  I think a lot of it is it's a good time of year for me.

It's kind of the last event of the year.  I played all summer.  I'm tournament‑ready, but yet then, you know, then a couple weeks then I'm a little fresher.  So kind of the best of both worlds.

I just think the time of the year suits, I guess, my game.

Q.  We asked you this on the conference call on media day.  I forgot what your response was.  How do you work this out, because you've got to make a living?

NATHAN SMITH:  Sure.  I work with great partners at Executive Wealth Counselors, and they have been great.  I have great partners that hold down the fort.  Through the summer I can flub a little bit.  Everybody is ‑‑ our clients are on vacations and everything.  After Labor Day, we get busy again.

But somebody's got to be in there watching it, so I work with some great people, some great partners.

Q.  What's the name of the firm?

NATHAN SMITH:  Executive Wealth Counselors.

Q.  When do you go back?

NATHAN SMITH:  ASAP.  Haven't thought about that.  Feels like we've been out here for a month.

Q.  You had some shoulder surgery a while, right?

NATHAN SMITH:  Sure.

Q.  It kind of ended pro aspirations.

NATHAN SMITH:  Yeah.

Q.  Any regrets that you didn't have that opportunity?

NATHAN SMITH:  Um, probably not after all this.  But, you know, at the same time, I think that being fortunate enough to play in the Masters and seeing those guys up close, I think it all worked out.  I mean, those guys are just so good, you know.

Q.  This morning you were worried about the weather and everything, you birdied the first and third holes.  Did you sense at some point maybe early on that you might have him on the ropes?

NATHAN SMITH:  Not really, no.  In fact, no, I thought he had some great shots.  I thought he was actually probably a better wind player than me with some of the shots he played, especially I think in the first round.  Like 8 and 9 I think he had back‑to‑back birdies there or something.

Those shots were just ‑‑ you know, how he held it up against the wind.  You know, so I didn't notice that a little all.  In fact, I was really fearful in the second round.  I thought he was really gonna get hot.  I never felt like I had a big enough lead on him.

Anything can happen out there with the conditions.  You never know.

Q.  What would you estimate your putt was on 13?

NATHAN SMITH:  Maybe like 15 or 20.