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Pinecrest CC’s Nathan Smith grabs elusive second Amateur Championship trophy

  PAOLI, Pa.–The past two years Nathan Smith came to the final hole of the State Amateur as a member of the last group staring a second championship trophy in the face. Both times he exited with a bogey and an eventual runner-up finish. On Wednesday at Waynesborough CC (par 71, 6,943 yards) in the final round of the 96th Amateur Championship, Smith eliminated any doubt as to the outcome of the 2009 edition with a spectacular closing score of 66. Emerging from a group of 12 players within four shots of overnight leader Michael Kania, Smith finished at 7-under par for the 54 holes (206 total) and a four-shot victory.

  “It is that much more special considering the last couple of years,” said Smith, 30, of Pittsburgh, Pa. “I’ve kind of felt like Greg Norman or something the last couple of years in this tournament. I’ve had a lot of seconds. [If] you are around the lead, good things are going to happen and I was able to get one this year.

ROBERT ROHANNA
  “This tournament always seems to be a lot of triumphant, a lot of tragedy. It’s always exciting. Today 10 or 12 guys probably could have won, we were all right there. I made some putts today and had a couple of good bounces. It was meant to be. Some years are like that.”

  Smith found victory in 2002 but frustration in 2001, 2007 and 2008 with second-place showings.

  The potential Walker Cup selection started the afternoon two shots back of Kania but stated his championship intentions immediately.

  On No. 1 (par 4, 369 yards), he knocked a sand wedge from 100 yards to 10 feet and made the putt.

  Five pars followed before Smith knocked a 70-yard, 60-degree wedge on No. 7 (par 5, 547 yards) to eight feet for birdie. He made the turn in 2-under par for his round and 4 under overall. At that point he held a one-shot lead over home-club hopeful Jeff Griest.

  A birdie on No. 10 (par 4, 457 yards) with a sand wedge from 150 yards to 10 feet extended his advantage before Smith fully claimed the title on the dangerous par 3, 14th. Measuring 175 yards, over water, Smith knocked his 7-iron to five feet and made the putt for a two.

  “That kind of won the tournament for me. That’s a great hole. It’s kind of a guessing game and I guessed right. I was just glad to hit the green and [think about carding] a three. If anything, [I’m trying] to take the water out of play. I was elated to see it at five feet.”

  Smith’s closest competitor at that time was at 3 under.

  A fantastic pair of up-and-down par saves on Nos. 15 (par 5, 554 yards) and 17 (par 3, 244 yards) – those were the only two holes Smith failed to record greens in regulation – followed before he hit 2-iron, 2-iron, 50-degree wedge from 100 yards to six feet on No. 18 (par 5, 539 yards) to close with a birdie.

  “The names on that [trophy] are a who’s who of golfers in Pennsylvania,” said Smith, who is ranked 21st in the Golfweek amateur United States rankings. “I’m honored to be on there once, let alone twice.”

  Robert Rohanna of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort placed second at 3-under par (210 total). He and Smith are both heading to the U.S. Amateur Championship Qualifier in Altoona, Pa., tomorrow.

  “I had it out there. I hit 15 greens and made only two birdies,” said Rohanna, 23, of Waynesburg, Pa. “It was all about putting. The longest putt I made was three feet. I hit the ball great. Hopefully tomorrow they’ll fall. I’ll have to try and beat [Nathan Smith] again.”

  Tony Perla, 21, of Collegeville, Pa., and Radnor Valley CC carded a 3-under-par 68 on Wednesday to finish in third at 2 under for the tournament and Nathan Sutherland, 20, of Golden Oaks GC and Wyomissing, Pa., was the only other player to finish in red figures at 1-under par.

  Griest, 22, of Glen Mills, Pa., who entered the final day a shot out of the lead, finished at even par.

  “The rain delay killed my momentum. I made no putts on the back nine,” said Griest, who had about two dozen supporters following his group. “I knew that rain delay was not going to be a good thing for me.

  It’s great to have the home crowd rooting for you. It was a good week overall.”

  There was a 48-minute lightning delay when the final group of Griest, Kania and Chad Warmbein made the turn.

  Kania, the second-round leader from Overbrook GC, never recovered after bogeying two of the first three holes en route to a third-round score of 79. He finished tied for 18th.

  “All week I’ve been hitting fairways and greens and today I just couldn’t find it,” said Kania, 18, of Haverford, Pa.

  Smith’s victory adds to an impressive resume he hopes is good enough to be selected for the Walker Cup slated for Sept. 12-13 at Merion GC.

  Recently, he tied for fourth in the Sunnehanna Invitational, tied for seventh at the Northeast Amateur and Southern Amateur and tied for 13th in the Porter Cup.

  Former multiple Pennsylvania Amateur Champion Buddy Marucci, Jr., serves as the United States captain.

  “That would be an honor,” said Smith. “I’ve played great the last two years. It’s been fun more than anything getting to know the guys. It would be a dream and an honor to get a shot at that.”

Name

Club

Rd. 1

Rd. 2

Rd. 3

Total

Nathan Smith

Pinecrest Country Club

68

72

66

206

Robert T. Rohanna

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

71

69

70

210

Tony R. Perla

Radnor Valley Country Club

68

75

68

211

Nathan Sutherland

Golden Oaks Golf Club

70

70

72

212

Chad A. Bricker

Waynesboro Country Club

70

73

70

213

Chad N. Warmbein

Rolling Hills Country Club

69

70

74

213

Christopher W. Ault

Yardley Country Club

69

71

73

213

Jeffrey Griest

Waynesborough Country Club

71

68

74

213

Travis J. Howe

Corey Creek Golf Club

73

68

72

213

Conrad Von Borsig

Concord Country Club

70

73

71

214

Daniel R. Charen

Yardley Country Club

69

73

72

214

David DeNunzio

Latrobe Country Club

75

72

68

215

Brandon Detweiler

Lancaster Country Club

70

75

70

215

Matt Smith

Whitford Country Club

73

74

68

215

Matt Vogt

Connoquenessing Country Club

72

71

72

215

Jon Pratkanis

Kittanning Country Club

72

71

73

216

Christian S. Davis

Glenmaura National Golf Club

73

73

70

216

Zak Drescher

Lancaster Country Club

72

70

75

217

Michael Kania

Overbrook Golf Club

68

70

79

217

Andrew Guaraldo

Waynesborough Country Club

72

74

71

217

Christopher Schultz

Squires Golf Club

73

70

74

217

Gregor A. Orlando

The Kahkwa Club

74

72

71

217

Matt Moot

Windber Country Club

70

72

76

218

Adam Hofmann

Fox Chapel Golf Club

73

73

72

218

Cory M. Siegfried

Philadelphia Country Club

71

73

74

218

Zachary C. Herr

Jericho National Golf Club

68

76

75

219

Glenn Smeraglio

Commonwealth National Golf Club

76

68

76

220

Anthony D. DeGol

Scotch Valley CC

72

73

75

220

C.G. Mercatoris, IV

Pinecrest Country Club

77

70

73

220

Tucker Koch

RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve

70

75

75

220

Pierce Dever

Jericho National Golf Club

75

72

74

221

Arnie Cutrell

Greensburg Country Club

75

69

77

221

Clayton C. Rotz

Penn National Golf Club

75

72

75

222

Eric W. Williams

Honesdale Golf Club

70

76

77

223

P. Chet Walsh

Phila Country

74

71

78

223

James P. Bea

Spring Mill Country Club

69

72

82

223

Anthony J. DeNicco

Brookside Country Club

76

71

77

224

Artie Fink, Jr.

Sinking Valley Country Club

72

74

79

225

Joe Bevevino

Huntsville Golf Club

75

71

79

225

Eric A. Plisko

Wyoming Valley Country Club

75

71

79

225

Christopher Storck

Moselem Springs Golf Club

75

72

80

227

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