Bridgehampton, N.Y. – Defending champion Nathan Smith of Pittsburgh, Pa., advanced to the final match of the U.S. Mid-Amateur for third time Wednesday.
In the marathon day of three match-play rounds at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, Smith defeated Todd Burgan, of Knoxville, Tenn., 5 and 3, in the semifinals.
Smith, 32, one of three stroke-play medalists and a member of the 2009 USA Walker Cup team, will face 1996 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Tim Hogarth, 44, of Northridge, Calif., who defeated Sean Knapp, 48, of Oakmont, Pa., 2 and 1, in the other semifinal match in near darkness.
All four semifinalists won two matches before the semifinals began at 3:10 p.m. After Tuesday’s lengthy weather delay, the third round resumed at 6:52 a.m., and the quarterfinal matches started at 10:40 a.m.
“It’s hard to believe,” Smith said of reaching the final for the second consecutive year. “It’s almost surreal. I can’t believe it. Having played in a lot of these, it’s surprising.”
In the 36-hole championship match Thursday at Atlantic Golf Club, Smith has a chance to tie several records. With a victory, he would become just the second player to win the championship in consecutive years, joining Jim Stuart (1990 and 1991). In addition, he would add to his 2003 and 2009 titles to match Jay Sigel, the winner in 1983, 1985 and 1987, for most Mid-Amateur championships.
“I feel pretty good right now but I know I am pretty tired,” said Smith, an investment advisor. “That was a long day. I don’t know how many holes I played today.” (He played 45 holes.)
In addition to enduring a long day on the course, Smith has seen a difficult path getting to the Mid-Amateur final again.
“When you have a magical year like last year, the best year I’ve ever had, I had a lot of breaks and lot of great draws,” Smith said. “This year, I think I had to make my own luck. Anybody who wins this, the next year you are going to have an uphill climb. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a harder bracket. Those guys were unbelievable.”
Earlier in the day, Smith defeated Anthony Barrera, of San Jose, Calif., 3 and 2, in the quarterfinals and Kevin Pomarleau of E. Wenatchee, Wash., 3 and 1, in the third round.
Hogarth, another stroke-play tri-medalist, advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 10 Mid-Amateur appearances with a 4-and-2 win over Robby McWilliams of Bossier City, La. He defeated Patrick Duffy of Omaha, Neb., in third round, 6 and 4.
“You play with your buddies and you play all day, it’s one thing,” said Hogarth, who is carrying his own golf bag. “But when it’s so important to you, you are mentally drained.”
The reinstated amateur credits a new training regimen based on muay thai kickboxing for his stamina, particularly on a day in which he played 47 holes.
“I went into muay thai and it’s taken me up 100 notches,” said Hogarth, a health foods distributor. “You kick the bag for an hour, walking around the golf course doesn’t seem like anything.”
Hogarth and Smith, who have not met, are the first co-medalists to meet in the Mid-Amateur final.
A qualifier for the 2010 U.S. Amateur, Hogarth didn’t expect as much success.
“Honestly, this is surprising,” he said. “At 44, I kind of thought this was past me. I still continue to work hard but for everything to click when it needed to, it’s a pleasant surprise considering Chambers Bay embarrassed me and beat me into submission.”
The winner receives a gold medal and custody of the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Mid-Amateur Trophy for a year. The champion 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.
Bridgehampton, N.Y. – Results following Wednesday’s third, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of match play at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, being played at the 7,044-yard, par-72 Atlantic Golf Club.
Round of 16
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (144) def. Kevin Pomarleau, E. Wenatchee, Wash. (152), 3 and 1
Anthony Barrera, San Jose, Calif. (147) def. Steve Harwell, Mooresville, N.C. (152), 19 holes
Todd Burgan, Knoxville, Tenn. (145) def. Tim Jackson, Germantown, Tenn. (152), 4 and 3
Tim Mickelson, San Diego, Calif. (153) def. Joseph Saladino, Huntington, N.Y. (149), 3 and 1
Tim Hogarth, Northridge, Calif. (144) def. Patrick Duffy, Omaha, Neb. (152), 6 and 4
Robby McWilliams, Bossier City, La. (149) def. Joey Gullion, Humble, Texas (152), 21 holes
Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. (144) def. Rick Cloninger, Fort Mill, S.C. (149), 1 up
Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145) def. Mike Calef, West Bridgewater, Mass. (152), 4 and 3
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (144) def. Anthony Barrera, San Jose, Calif. (147), 3 and 2
Todd Burgan, Knoxville, Tenn. (145) def. Tim Mickelson, San Diego, Calif. (153), 5 and 3
Tim Hogarth, Northridge, Calif. (144) def. Robby McWilliams, Bossier City, La. (149), 4 and 2
Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145) def. Scott Harvey, Greensboro, N.C. (144), 3 and 2
Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (144) def. Todd Burgan, Knoxville, Tenn. (145), 5 and 3
Tim Hogarth, Northridge, Calif. (144) def. Sean Knapp, Oakmont, Pa. (145), 2 and 1
Bridgehampton, N.Y. – Pairing for Thursday’s championship final at the 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur, being played at the 7,044-yard, par-72 Atlantic Golf Club.
7:30 a.m. -- Nathan Smith, Pittsburgh, Pa. (144) vs. Tim Hogarth, Northridge, Calif. (144)