Pick Six: Smith Intercepts Another Fownes POY
Nathan Smith named 2018 William C. Fownes, Jr. Player of the Year for record sixth time
BROOMALL, Pa. – Nathan Smith has done it, yet again. Thanks to another strong season, Smith extended his own record by winning back-to-back William C. Fownes, Jr. Player of the Year Awards, moving his total to six since its inception in 2003. He compiled a grand total of 667 points to finish ahead of Penn State standout JD Hughes, of Carlisle Country Club.
Smith, of Bridgeville, (Pittsburgh), Pa., and a member of Pinecrest Country Club and Wildwood Golf Club, also claimed Fownes POY honors in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2015, and 2017. He finished second on four occasions (2008, 2012-2014). To say he’s a model of consistency would be quite an understatement. Aside from a couple years of battling injury, he’s finished outside the Top 5 in the Fownes POY standings just three times out of 16.
This season brought with it another crown at the 15th R. Jay Sigel Amateur Match Play Championship presented by LECOM, played at Schuylkill Country Club, moving his record number of wins in that event also to six. On his way to The Sigel title, Smith earned medalist honors in 36-hole stroke play qualifying by two strokes over Andy Butler, Pittsburgh Field Club, by posting a 6-under par total of 138 on the Donald Ross track. In match play, Smith defeated Patrick Mitchell, Glenmaura National Golf Club, 6 & 5; Brett Young, Nemacolin Country Club, in 19 holes; Christopher Cerminaro, Glenmaura National Golf club, 3 & 2; Max Siegfried, Aronimink Golf Club, 3 & 2, in the Final.
“I was very consistent off the tee this year and worked hard on that, playing a big banana ball to keep it in the fairway most of the time. Thank goodness for match play. I guess a lot of my success has come in that form of play. I’m not sure why; maybe I just feel freed up for some reason,” Smith said.
Those who watch him play know very well why that’s the case. Smith refuses to beat himself in a match by always being in the proper position and by playing to his strengths, the strongest of which is his impeccable short game. He rarely misses a putt he needs to make.
Smith finished tied for third in the 105th Amateur Championship presented by LECOM at Sunnehanna Country Club, the famed Tillinghast site where he has tons of experience. Smith competes regularly in the prestigious Sunnehanna Amateur Tournament for Champions, which he won in 2011 in a playoff over Lee Bedford and Zac Blair.
“I’ve just had so many great memories and experiences at Sunnehanna; it’s a great layout, great course and I feel very comfortable there,” Smith said. “I played well in the State Am this year to finish third, and I had a front row seat to see Connor Schmidt shoot zero on the final nine to win it!"
“All the venues this year were incredible, as usual, and next year is more of the same. I’m already looking forward to 2019.”
On what drives him to be the best, Smith said, “I just love to play. I love it and I can’t get enough of it. I love the grind of always trying to keep getting better.”
What’s in the Bag?
Driver – Callaway Epic
3-wood – Callaway Epic
Irons – Callaway Apex
Wedges – Titleist Vokey Design
Putter – Wilson 8813
*Honorable Mention – Orange Momentus Warmup Driver
About William C. Fownes, Jr.
W.C. Fownes, Jr. was the quintessential amateur golfer who led by example and whose good influence - personal and institutional - was extensive. W.C. Fownes' major golf credits include being a Pennsylvania Amateur and U.S. Amateur Champion, Walker Cup organizer, player and team captain, and USGA president.
The William C. Fownes, Jr. Amateur Player of the Year Award is given to the player who exemplifies the highest standards of excellence on the golf course in skill, sportsmanship, and etiquette in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.