Penn. Mid-Am: Smith's emotional win

SPRINGFIELD, Pa. (Sept. 16, 2008) -- William Smith of Chambersburg CC rode a red-hot putter en route to one of the most dominating and emotional state victories in recent memory, taking the 15th Middle-Amateur Championship on Tuesday at Rolling Green GC (par 71, 6,911 yards) by a remarkable nine shots. The margin of victory was the largest in a Pennsylvania Golf Association event since David Brookreson of Huntingdon Valley CC captured the individual gross title of the 2005 Senior Team Championship by six strokes. It is also the largest margin in the five years since the Mid-Am. has adopted a stroke-play format.

The victory, however, meant far more to Smith and his family as mother Barbara currently fights lung cancer. She is already a two-time breast cancer survivor.

"I’ve never played a golf tournament for anybody but myself but this tournament is for my mom," said a teary-eyed Smith. "She’s fighting lung cancer and she hasn’t been able to watch me play golf at all this summer. That’s one of her favorite things to do. So I had a, I don’t know what you want to call it, 15th club or guardian angel."

Barbara, 68, who was able to follow her son the past two days in a riding cart, is about a month into chemotherapy treatments. And when asked how she’s currently feeling, Smith said, "She’s fighting the fight and we are all praying for."

Smith’s closest competition came from his group mates as Michael McDermott of Merion GC edged Glenn Smeraglio of Yardley CC by a stroke for second. McDermott finished at 2-over par after carding consecutive rounds of 72.

Neither, however, offered a challenge to Smith who backed up his first round 68 with a 4-under-par 67. Those were the lone two sub-par rounds of the tournament. His 67 came with a total of 25 putts, 12 on the front side and 13 on the back.

"Every putt I looked at I felt I could make it," said Smith, a 39-year-old Newville, Pa., resident.

On the front nine he converted four birdies and built an eight-shot advantage with nine holes to play.

Smith hit a wedge from 100 yards on No. 4 (par 4, 407 yards) to 10 feet; smacked a 6-iron from 183 yards on No. 5 (par 4, 420 yards) to 15 feet; made an easy up-and-down 4 on the short par 5, No. 7 (505 yards) and on No. 9 (par 5, 618 yards) curled in a 15 footer after smacking a 9-iron on from 129 yards.

"That was the best display of putting I’ve ever seen," said McDermott, himself one of the top amateurs in the state of Pennsylvania. "It was a real pleasure to watch. It certainly did seem like there was a higher power with his mom being sick and all. The ball just kept going in."

McDermott, 33, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said Smith, by his count, drained an incredible nine putts outside of 10 feet.

On the back side, Smith made his first bogey in 21 holes on No. 11 (par 4, 450 yards) after finding the fairway bunker and another on No. 13 (par 4, 438 yards) but made an amazing 18-foot par save on the treacherous 14th (par 3, 208 yards) to get back in the groove. He would birdie No. 16 (par 3, 166 yards) with a 7-iron to 15 feet and No. 17 (par 5, 506 yards) after knocking a chip to inches.

"I wanted to make sure I didn’t put too much pressure on myself," said Smith of holding a five-shot lead entering the final round. "But let’s face it. Golf is wonderful and gives us a great opportunity but I’m going to go down the road and go back and sell furniture as a sales rep tomorrow. When cancer comes into your family and it’s come in three times that’s hard. So when you talk about hard. That’s hard."

--Courtesy PGA

ABOUT THE Pennsylvania Mid-Amateur

36-hole stroke play event open to open to any male amateur golfer who is a member of a club belonging to the Pennsylvania Golf Association and is 25 years of age or older. Qualifying is required for those who do not meet the exemption criteria.

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