Top 10 storylines: Smith wins 4th U.S. Mid-Am
03 Jan 2013
by Golfweek

see also: Nathan Smith Rankings

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

By Ron Balicki, Golfweek

There were plenty of good stories that came out of amateur golf this past season, exciting, happy endings as well as disappointing, heart- breaking endings.

From Steven Fox winning the U.S. Amateur, to Nathan Smith capturing a record fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur to a 14-year-old from China qualifying for next year’s Masters -- and a whole lot more along the way.

I’ve been covering amateur golf at just about every level for some 30 years and it seems each year provides its own share of interesting stories, whether in victory or defeat.

Compiling a list of the best of them for 2012 was difficult, but here is a list of my top 10:

Golfweek's Top 10 Stories of 2012
  • No. 10: Guan wins Asian Am | Read
  • No. 9: Peter Williamson's Summer | Read
  • No. 8 Rhys Pugh's Comeback | Read
  • No. 7: Chris Williams' Western Am run | Read
  • No. 6: Daan Huizing wins Lytham Trophy | Read
  • No. 5: USA dominates World Am Team | Read
  • No. 4: T.J. Vogel wins U.S. Public Links | Read
  • No. 3: Alan Dunbar wins British Amateur | Read
  • No. 2: Nathan Smith wins 4th U.S. Mid-Am | Read
  • No. 1: Steven Fox wins thrilling U.S. Am | Read
No. 2: Nathan Smith, 34, of Pittsburgh, made USGA history when he captured his fourth U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, defeating Garrett Rank, 25, of Canada, 1-up, in the 36-hole final match at Conway Farms Golf Club just outside Chicago.

Adding to the special moment for Smith was having his father Larry as his caddie. Larry, 64 and a retired school teacher, has been Nathan’s caddie in each of his U.S. Mid-Amateur victories (2003, ‘09, ‘10, and ‘12).

Previously, Smith shared the distinction of most Mid-Am victories with Jay Sigel at three. Now he stands alone in this championship, first held in 1981, for those 25 years and older.

“It’s pretty surreal, actually,” said Smith, who has been a member of the U.S. team at the last two Walker Cup competitions. “Anytime you can say you’ve done something no one else has done, whether it’s in sport or in life, it’s just amazing.”

Rank, a 2012 graduate at the University of Waterloo in Canada, also was trying to make U.S. Mid-Am history as both the first foreign-born champion as well as the youngest winner. He turned 25 three days before the start of the championship. He would have upstaged Smith, who holds that distinction when he won in 2003 at 25 years, 2 months.

Smith, who did not play in this championship in 2004 and 2005 due to injuries and getting married on Labor Day weekend in 2005, now has four victories in his eight starts. His match-play record in this event is 32-4, a remarkable .889 winning percentage.

“Yeah, that’s hard to believe,” Smith said. “The competition is just so tough. To win four of these championships . . . wow.”

So, for the fourth time, the name Nathan Smith is etched onto the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Mid-Amateur Trophy. And, this coming April, for the fourth time, Smith will be competing in the Masters.

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