Nathan Smith wins second US Mid-Amateur title


USGAKIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. –  Nathan Smith won his second U.S. Mid-Amateur title on Friday, building a big early lead and cruising to a 7-and-6 victory over Tim Spitz.

Smith, the 2003 champion, was 3 up after five holes and never let Spitz back in it over 30 holes at Cassique at The Kiawah Island Club.

Smith was 8-up after the morning round and finished with the third-largest margin of victory since the Mid-Amateur went to a 36-hole final in 2001.

Smith closed it out in style, landing his approach on No. 12 within 6 inches of the cup. Spitz conceded the match once the pair reached the green.

Smith’s next high-profile event should be the Masters in April. Augusta National has generally sent an invitation to the winner of this USGA event.

“I’m speechless,” Smith said of a second opportunity to compete at Augusta. “When I was there before, I felt like the luckiest man in the world.”

He was certainly the best over the past week here.

Smith, a 31-year-old investment adviser from Pittsburgh, was co-medalist after two rounds of qualifying. After winning 1-up in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Smith ended most of the drama early in this one by winning three of the first four holes.

Spitz, a former Furman golfer from Rochester, N.Y., looked ready to mount a charge on the par-3 fifth hole when his tee shot nearly went in for an ace and settled less a foot away for birdie.

Smith, though, curled in a 25-footer from off the fringe for a 2 of his own to continue the momentum.

Smith poured it on the rest of the early round, going 5-up through nine and 8-up after 18.

Anytime Spitz had a chance to rebound, Smith closed the door.

Spitz was 15 feet away from birdie while Smith faced a third-shot from well below the elevated green at No. 9. Smith’s chip rolled to 3 feet for his par while Spitz was short on his attempt.

“I was really solid this morning,” Smith said. “There’s such a fine line out here.”