Smith Outlasts Cutrell to Win Sigel Match Play
INDIANA, Pa. - In an epic finale between two previous champions that went 24 holes, Nathan Smith topped Arnie Cutrell to win the 12th R. Jay Sigel Match Play, presented by Allegheny Health Network, at Indiana Country Club.
Smith, of Pinecrest Country Club, qualified for match play as the fifth seed, but as a previous three-time winner of the event and four-time winner of the USGA Middle-Amateur Championship, his match play chops could not be doubted by anyone in the field. However, Greensburg Country Club's Cutrell gave him all he could handle in the finale after each player beat a golfer from the host club in the semifinals. Smith edged Matt Holuta, 2 and 1, while Cutrell topped Doug Gradwell in 19 holes to advance to the championship match.
In that championship match, Cutrell quickly grabbed a 2-up lead after a short birdie putt on the first hole and an 18-footer on the third hole for another birdie.
Smith got a shot back with a birdie on the fifth hole, but lost that back after a rare three-putt on the sixth. However, on the ninth hole, Cutrell had to take an unplayable and conceded the hole to Smith. On the back nine, Smith evened the match up with birdie on the par-5 11th hole. After a series of pars, Cutrell reclaimed the lead on the 15th hole after Smith's approach went long over the green. Smith then evened up the match with a birdie on No. 17. Both players just missed birdie chances on No. 18, leading to the playoff.
The playoff began on No. 1 and both players made statements with birdie on that hole. After routine pars on No. 2, the match moved to the third hole. On the 208-yard par-3, Cutrell was short and left of the green, while Smith was eight feet away for birdie. Cutrell managed to get up and down, and Smith's birdie putt to win just lipped out. They moved to the fourth hole, where Cutrell converted a tough five-foot putt to extend the match again.
On the par-5 fifth, Cutrell made birdie after hitting his drive to the left rough. Smith, meanwhile, had an eagle putt to win the title, but just missed it. He converted his birdie, though, to force a sixth hole. On that hole, Smith stuffed his approach to four feet, while Cutrell had a 25-foot uphill putt. Cutrell missed his chance, setting up Smith, who dropped the putt into the hole to win the championship for the record fourth time.
The final match was the longest finale in the history of the event, topping last year's edition, where Eric Williams topped James Kania, Jr., in 20 holes at Sunnehanna Country Club. It was fitting that it involved the two most decorated players in the event's history, and was also the first rematch of a previous championship match in the event's history. Cutrell defeated Smith in 2006 at Totteridge Country Club. Smith has now won both times the event was held at Indiana Country Club, having also triumped in 2011, when he defeated Michael Brown.
The path to the final match was marked by a series of brilliant matches among the 16 golfers that qualified for match play. Rick Stimmel, who medaled in the stroke play qualifying with a score of 65, was felled in the round of 16 by Holuta, who won 1 up. West Virginia University standout Easton Renwick, a recent winner of the West Penn Amateur, topped Temple University golfer Matthew Teesdale, also 1 up. Holuta then topped Renwick, 2 and 1, setting up his match with Smith in the semifinals.
Smith's path to the final saw him top Hickory Heights Golf Club's Rob Cimarolli, 3 and 2, in the round of 16. He then topped Carlisle Country Club's Michael Hoare, also 3 and 2, to advance to the semis against Holuta.
On the other half of the bracket, Aronimink Golf Club's Michael Davis, seeded second, was upended by Huntingdon Valley Country Club's Kyle Sterbinsky, 2 up, in the round of 16. Cutrell, the 10th seed, topped Tim Bowers, 5 and 4. Cutrell then topped Sterbinsky, 3 and 2, to advance to the semifinals against Gradwell.
Gradwell used his home course knowledge to top Manufacturers Golf & Country Club's Oliver White in 19 holes in his first match. He then got past Sean Knapp, a two-time finalist in the event, winning 1 up to move on to face Cutrell in the other semifinal.
The Pennsylvania Golf Association would like to thanK Indiana Country Club and its staff and membership for assistance in running the championship, and to Allegheny Health Network for its continuing sponsorship of the Golf Association of Philadelphia.