Paul Smith breaks through to win the SCGA Senior Amateur
Paul Smith (SCGA Photo)
Paul Smith (SCGA Photo)

Soule Park GC member Paul Smith brought home his first SCGA title in historic fashion in the 47th edition of the Senior Amateur Championship.  

Located in the heart of Ojai Valley, Soule Park played host to the annual three-day event for the first time. Smith, finishing at 14-under across 54 holes at his home track, was just one stroke shy of matching the lowest score to par in championship history, set by Tim Hogarth at Santa Ana CC in 2022 (15-under).  

Smith got a taste of contention last year when he logged a top-five finish. So when he saw himself taking a four-stroke lead into the final round on Wednesday, he put pressure on himself to keep pushing towards the finish line. This was on his mind all week when thinking about his strategy for each round. 

“Keep my foot on the gas. Don’t try to lay up, don’t try to start playing safe because there’s a lot of good players out here. [I] played as aggressive as I could,” said Smith. 

In his last round, Smith was paired with Mark Miller who finished in second place at 11-under and four-time SCGA Senior Am Champion Craig Davis. Davis, also the reigning California Senior Amateur champ, finished fourth at 6-under.  

Miller would come as close as anyone to catching Smith. After opening with a birdie on No. 1 and his first of two eagles on No. 4, Smith responded with consecutive birdies on Nos. 4 and 5.  

Miller rolled in another birdie on No. 8 to wrap up a front-nine score of 32. He stayed hot with his second eagle on No. 11, rolling in a near 40-foot putt from the fringe. But Smith responded again with two birdies over his next three holes to keep his three-stroke lead safe.  

Miller’s first mistake of the day came on the par-3 16th hole, where his charge to catch the leader had all but ended with a bogey. With a tap-in par from Smith, he was looking at a four-stroke lead with two holes to play that would eventually lead to his victory.  

“I was trying to shoot the low round each day,” said Smith. “I didn’t know about the record but it's exciting to hear I was so close to it.” 

Smith tends to rely on his driver, but his putting came together this week to help him clinch a final-round score of 3-under with four birdies. He managed to stay consistent through the back nine and closed out his victorious round with four consecutive pars. 

Smith rolled in six birdies on the par 5’s over his three days. His strategy for the reachable par 5’s was nothing new to him. 

“Knowing the golf course was a big advantage. So, as soon as I knew where to hit it, it was just a matter of trying to find out if I can make that shot,” said Smith. 

Familiarity with the course assisted Smith to finish out his four-stroke lead heading into the final round. Knowledge like knowing which way the wind tends to blow and the best spot in the fairway gave him an ample chance at making birdies and going low. 

Smith is now chasing his next win as he approaches a qualifier U.S. Senior Amateur Championship and other events in Northern California.

Results: SCGA Senior Amateur
1CAPaul SmithTurlock, CA50067-66-69=202
2CAMark C. MillerWest Covina, CA30071-68-66=205
3CATim HogarthNorthridge, CA20071-68-69=208
4CACraig DavisChula Vista, CA20070-67-73=210
T5CALarry SalkSan Anselmo, CA20074-69-69=212

View full results for SCGA Senior Amateur

ABOUT THE SCGA Senior Amateur

This event is open to members with handicap indexes of 9.4 and below and are age 55 and above. Competitors compete in 18 holes of qualifying play in order to reach the final field of 84 players. In the championship, players compete over 54 holes of stroke play over three days. The top 30 players and ties advance after 36 holes to the final round to determine the overall Senior Amateur Champion.

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