Wills Smith after his Savannah City Amateur victory (Bacon Park GC photo)
SAVANNAH, Ga. (Sept. 4, 2018) – Wills Smith
won his first title in nine years at the Savannah City Amateur despite weather woes. Smith, a 31-year-old reinstated amateur who was a member of the University of Georgia golf team, used the event to dip his toe back into competitive golf. He only received his renewed amateur status in 2017.
“When I got my amateur status back, I just didn’t really want to practice and play competitively,” Smith told the Savannah Morning News
. ”(When I was playing professionally) I wasn’t enjoying golf and putting too much pressure on myself to make money. But now when I’m sitting at home or sitting at work, I’m thinking about my swing and mentally thinking about making good swings.”
Weather interrupted play at Bacon Park Golf Course repeatedly during Monday’s third and final round. Tournament organizers eventually shortened the event from 54 to 45 holes. Smith, Danny Nelson and Will Parker were all tied at even par at that point, so the three returned to the course for sudden death. (Interestingly, a scoring error resulted in a fourth player, Kevin King, entering the playoff until it was discovered that King was actually at 1 over – he finished fourth.)
Smith stuck his approach shot to inside 3 feet on the first playoff hole. He calmly sunk the putt to win the tournament. Smith also won in 2008 and 2009.
Smith began his college golf career at Armstrong Atlantic State University, but transferred to Georgia for his senior season. Georgia won the 2010 SEC Championship title, and Smith received his only letter that year. Smith tried his hand at professional golf, but last appeared as a professional in the final round of 2014 PGA Tour Qualifying School. Then he put the clubs away.
″(Bacon Park Golf Course) sets up well to my eye, and I’ve always enjoyed playing here,” said Smith, who played high school golf at Savannah Christian with current PGA Tour player Brian Harman. “I feel comfortable on every hole and every shot here. In some ways, maybe taking such a long break erased some bad habits from my mind.”
Other winners include David Allgire in the Men's Flighted Division, Bill McCloskey in the Senior Division, Ken Hughes in the Senior Flighted Division and Al Small in the Legends Division.
Information from the Savannah Morning News used in this report
ABOUT THE Savannah City Amateur
Long a favorite of Savannah area
players and contested on a classic 1926
Donald Ross design,
tournament has been won by local legends
Doug Hanzel (5-time champ), Danny Nelson (5-time
champ) and Jack Hall
(multiple titles) play each year. Championship and
flighted divisions, plus a women's division and
gross and net competitions for seniors and super
View Complete Tournament Information