Kiawah Island, S.C. – Co-medalist and 2003 champion Nathan Smith, 31, meets Tim Spitz, 33, of Rochester, N.Y., in Friday’s 36-hole championship match of the 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur at the 6,964-yard, par-72 Cassisque at The Kiawah Island Club.
Because of the heavy rains on Monday, the schedule of the Mid-Amateur was revised to move the first and second rounds of match play to Tuesday, the third and quarterfinal rounds to Wednesday, the semifinals to Thursday and the final to Friday. This has been the first time the schedule was altered by weather since the 1997 championship at Dallas Athletic Club.
In the semifinals, Smith, a member of the victorious 2009 USA Walker Cup and USGA Men’s State Team squads last month, edged Robert Gerwin, 43, of Cincinnati, Ohio, 1 up, in sunny but windy conditions.
An investment advisor, who won the 2009 Pennsylvania Amateur, Smith took a 2-up lead through six holes. However, Gerwin, a quarterfinalist in 1997 celebrating his birthday Thursday, won the seventh and ninth holes with pars to square the match.
The players then halved eight consecutive holes before Smith coaxed a 162-yard 7-iron to 8 feet on the 18th hole after Gerwin’s drive trickled into a heavy lie in the rough and he could not reach the green in two shots. Gerwin failed to convert his 12-foot par putt. Then Smith’s birdie try just missed and Gerwin conceded the hole.
“I hit it pretty close,” said Smith, who is playing in his second Mid-Amateur final. “But, it was still the longest two-putt I’ve ever made. I wasn’t trying to make it.”
Smith will be trying to duplicate the 2007 season of Dallas’ Trip Kuehne, who won the Mid-Amateur and was on the winning Walker Cup and USGA Men’s State Team squads. Smith is also vying to become the fourth multiple winner of the U.S. Mid-Amateur.
“It’s been an unbelievable summer,” said Smith. “It’s been a dream for me. Somehow, I’ve been able to extend the summer into October. Win, lose or draw tomorrow, it’s been a blast.
In the first semifinal match, Spitz defeated Patrick Carter, 41, of Huntington, W.Va., 3 and 2.
In a tight match, Spitz won the par-5 11th hole with 5-foot birdie putt to take his first lead. It was the first time in 67 holes this week that Carter had trailed. Spitz added to his lead when Carter bogeyed the par-3 13th when he could not save par from a bunker.
Spitz, a reinstated amateur who graduated from Furman University in Greenville, S.C. in 1997, then closed out the match with a winning par on the par-3 16th.
“Number 11 was a big hole,” said Carter, a four-time Mid-Amateur quarterfinalist. “The next person to get up in the match is typically going to be the winner.”
Spitz, who brought his wife and three young children with him on the trip, has accrued many local victories in his hometown of Rochester. En route to the final, he defeated 2005 Mid-Amateur champion Kevin Marsh in the first round. He stressed that making the final is his biggest golf accomplishment “without a doubt.”
“I haven’t really won anything,” said Spitz. “I’m basically a local player. But, it turns out I am pretty good.”
The champion receives a gold medal, custody of the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy for one year, an exemption from qualifying for the next 10 U.S. Mid-Amateurs, and, historically, an invitation to the next Masters Tournament.
The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are for amateurs.
Kiawah Island, S.C. – Results of Thursday’s semifinal round of match play at the 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 6,964-yard, par-72 Cassique at The Kiawah Island Club.
Tim Spitz, Rochester, N.Y. (146) def. Patrick Carter, Huntington, W.Va. (144), 3 and 2
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (140) def. Robert Gerwin, Cincinnati, Ohio (141), 1 up
Kiawah Island, S.C. – Pairing for Friday’s 36-hole round of match play at the 2009 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, played at the 6,964-yard, par-72 Cassique at The Kiawah Island Club. (EDT)
8 a.m. -- Tim Spitz, Rochester, N.Y. (146) vs. Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (140)
2009 United States Golf Association. All Rights Reserved.
ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the
amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the
purpose of which to provide a formal national
championship for the post-college player. The
event is open to those with a USGA Handicap
Index of 3.4 or lower. It is one of 13 national
championships conducted annually by the
USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
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