Nathan Smith, of Pittsburgh, Pa., won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship for a record-tying third time Thursday with a 7-and-5 victory over Tim Hogarth in the final match at windswept Atlantic Golf Club.
"You win one of these and you feel like you hit the lottery," said Smith, who also won this championship in 2003 and 2009. "You never imagine that you're going to win it three times."
Smith joined Jay Sigel, the winner in 1983, 1985 and 1987, as the second three-time champion in the 30-year history of the championship. He also became the second player to win in consecutive years, matching Jim Stuart (1990 and 1991 winner). Smith also tied Sigel and Jerry Courville Jr. in advancing to his third Mid-Amateur final.
"Being from Pennsylvania and being aware of how much Jay Sigel has done, you can't get your arms around that," Smith said.
The 32-year-old, who played on the victorious 2009 USA Walker Cup Team, began the match crisply. He was the equivalent of five under par, with the usual match-play concessions, in the morning 18 holes of the scheduled 36-hole final. He posted 13 pars and five birdies.
"That is the best round of golf I have ever seen," said Hogarth, 44, of Northridge, Calif. "He played phenomenal. He stuck it right it to me."
Hogarth, a reinstated amateur who won the 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links, narrowed Smith’s lead to just 1 up with birdies on No. 8 and No. 9. Smith’s steadiness brought him back, however, and he extended his lead to 5 up with a birdie on the short, par-4 17th.
"I have been feeling that my game is headed the right way all year but I didn’t get too many results," said Smith, an investment adviser. "But as far as the week, that is as good as I have played."
The round he played in the morning was ridiculous, said Hogarth, a health food broker. He didn’t make a bogey and it’s blowing 30 mph. I’m struggling. I need some help and he didn’t give me any. I needed my absolute best.
Atlantic Golf Club dodged the rain that poured down on most of the New York City area but brisk winds reached nearly 40 mph during the afternoon round.
Smith began the afternoon round by winning the 19th and 21st holes with birdies to extend his lead to 7 up. He made his first bogey of the day on the 22nd hole, shrinking his lead to 6 up. However, Hogarth could not gain any ground, even when Smith offered a chance by posting four consecutive bogeys on holes 25 through 28.
"It just was crazy out there for both of us," Smith said of the wind, which picked up significantly in the afternoon. "Jeez, on No. 8 I think I was trying to punch an 8‑iron from 110 yards when it’s my 150[-yard] club."
The 36-hole final followed Wednesday’s three-round marathon, but the windy conditions remained the true test.
"I thought he was actually probably a better wind player than me with some of the shots he played," Smith said. "He held it up against the wind. In fact, I was really fearful in the second round. I thought he was really going to get hot. I never felt like I had a big enough lead on him. Anything can happen out there with the conditions."
Hogarth and Smith were the first co-medalists to meet in the Mid-Amateur final.
The winner receives a gold medal and custody of the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Mid-Amateur Trophy for a year as well as a 10-year exemption from qualifying for the Mid-Amateur and exemptions into the next two U.S. Amateurs. The champion also has received an invitation to the next Masters Tournament every year since 1989.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur, which is open to golfers age 25 and older, is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Pete Kowalski, manager of championship communications for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridgehampton, N.Y. – Result from Thursday’s championship final at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur, being played at the 7,044-yard, par-72 Atlantic Golf Club.
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (144) d. Tim Hogarth, Northridge, Calif. (144), 7 and 5