Smith wins fourth WPGA Mid-Amateur Championship
By Mike Dudurich • August 21, 2019
Mike is a 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 sure knows how to make a return to competition.
After resting a pulled intercostal muscle since July, the four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur returned to action Wednesday at Williams Golf & Country Club in Weirton, W.Va. and blistered the course and the competition.
In his rounds of 64 and 66 that made him a five-shot winner over Rick Stimmel, Smith made 13 birdies an eagle and a single bogey. It wasn’t like Stimmel was chopped liver, making nine birdies, an eagle and two bogeys for rounds of 66-69.
“It was unreal,” Stimmel said. “I played with him in a twosome because of a withdrawal and I just played off what he was doing. We started making birdies and he played so good it was unbelievable. It really was fun to watch. He hit so many pure shots and so many shots to within three or four feet. And, of course, he rolled in two 40-footers. I had a front seat to what was going on and there was nothing I could do about it.”
The runner up finish for Stimmel was his fourth in the last seven years.
“This is the only one I’ve not won,” Stimmel said. “I’ve won the Fred Brand, Best-Ball, the West Penn Open and the West Penn Am. But never gotten this one.”
The victory for Smith was his fourth in the event, moving him into a tie with John Jones and Arnold Cutrell. Those three are five wins short of the all-time leader, Sean Knapp.
Knapp played well again this year, making 11 birdies but also put five bogeys on the card, leaving him eight shots behind Smith. Jimmy Ellis also put up 11 birdies but was doomed by three double bogeys.
“That was fun for sure,” Smith said. “It was hard to believe actually. Williams was in such good shape and Rick and I just pushed each other.”
Key to Smith’s success was his performance on the first four holes on the course. He birdied those eight holes seven times.
“It was nice,” he said. “It’s been a tough year, laying around trying to get better but wanting to be out there with the guys. But I didn’t want to lose the fall, so I just did some chipping and a little bit of putting to let myself heal.”
The Mid-Am was only Smith’s sixth event of the year, thanks to his injury and a change of job.
He’s hoping to build on his performance this week as he heads west to the Colorado Golf Club and the Commonground Golf Course for the U.S. Mid-Amateur. Winning the WPGA Mid-Am and the U.S. Mid-Am would put a nice wrapper on a season that didn’t have a great deal of success.
He’ll be joined by qualifiers Andrew Hodge of Oakmont and Brett Young of Bethel Park for the Sept. 14-20 event.
The Mid-Am was first contested in 1985 and is a competition for amateurs who live in Western Pennsylvania who are 25 years of age or older. It has developed into one of the most fierce competitions on the WPGA schedule, thanks to a very strong group of Mid-Ams, led by Smith, of course.
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.