ABSECON, N.J.–Spike Smith of the Country Club of North Carolina drove nearly seven hours to compete in Monday’s USGA Senior Amateur Championship Qualifier at Galloway National GC.
The long trek paid off as the Pinehurst, N.C. resident topped the field of 88 by firing a 3-under-par 68.
“I did everything good,” Smith, 60, said. “This is one of the best courses in the country, so you’ve got to play solid golf to shoot a pretty good score here.”
Smith registered seven birdies on the day. After beginning his round with a bogey on No. 10 (par 4, 409 yards), Smith drained a three-footer for birdie on No. 11 (par 5, 490 yards) after smacking his pitching wedge 90 yards. But he struggled on Nos. 13 (par 4, 433 yards) and 14 (par 3, 209 yards) by three-putting for bogey on each.
“At that point, I’m 2 over and thinking I’ve come a long way from Pinehurst to qualify,” Smith said.
Smith rebounded by rattling three consecutive birdies. He stuck an approach 7-iron to six feet on No. 15 (par 4, 398 yards). On the monstrous par 5, 535-yard 16th hole, Smith pitched from the edge of the green to two feet. He smashed a 5-wood on No. 17 (par 3, 218 yards) to three feet and drained the birdie putt.
Things could’ve turned ugly for Smith on No. 1 (par 4, 400 yards), but he got up-and-down for par after escaping the front-side bunker.
“That was a key hole for me. That really propelled me,” he said.
Sensing a newfound energy, Smith drilled his 7-iron to two feet on the par 3, 138-yard No. 2 and converted the birdie putt. From 200 yards out, he smacked his 5-wood to the back of the No. 3 (par 4, 340 yards) green, but managed to chip in for birdie. Smith’s final birdie came on No. 5 (par 3, 175 yards) after his 7-iron tee shot settled four feet from the flagstick. He finished his round in steady fashion with pars on Nos. 8 (par 3, 182 yards) and 9 (par 5, 530 yards).
“I wasn’t really thinking about shooting any lower,” he said. “I was here to qualify, not be a hero.”
Smith grew up in Northfield, N.J. and played golf at Atlantic City Country Club before moving to North Carolina 13 years ago.
“This was my first opportunity to come back and play in a Golf Association [of Philadelphia] event,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you that they did an unbelievable job running this tournament. This was awesome, and this is one of the best courses in the country.”
Monday’s venue prompted Smith to make the trip.
“It was inconvenient for me because I have to get in my car and tee off in the North/South tomorrow morning for three more rounds, but I knew if I was going to qualify for a USGA championship, I had to come to a hard golf course,” he said. “I knew I had to find a place that was difficult for me to have a chance.”
Smith, a former golf professional, has played in three British Senior Opens. He regained his amateur status two years ago.
Gary Daniels of Saucon Valley CC also qualified Monday by registering a 2-over-par 73. The Center Valley, Pa. resident, who started his round on the back nine, rallied after carding a triple bogey on No. 17 (par 3, 218 yards), thanks to a lost ball.
“I misread the wind and knocked it over the green,” Daniels, 59, said. “I said that I’ve got to get back to 72 or somewhere around even par to lock this thing up.”
Daniels, who captured the Frank Champman Memorial (Gross) at Philadelphia CC last month, got back on track on No. 18 as he stuck his pitching wedge 120 yards onto the green. He then sunk a downhill, left-to-right breaking 30-footer for birdie. Daniels launched a 5-iron to three feet on No. 5 (par 3, 175 yards) and drained the birdie putt. His 5-iron also proved vital on No. 8 (par 3, 182 yards) and converted a 12-footer for birdie from behind the flagstick.
“I hit some tremendous irons today,” Daniels said.
Daniels qualified for USGA Senior Amateur Championship in 2004. He fell to David Brookerson of Huntingdon Valley CC in match play.
“It was really weird that we got paired together,” Daniels said.
Thomas Borsello of Wilmington, Del., Jerry Horton of Hightstown, N.J., and Tom Yellin of New York, N.Y. also qualified. The USGA Senior Amateur Championship will be held Sept. 12-17 at Beverly CC in Chicago, Ill.
|Spike Smith||Pinehurst, NC||68|
|Gary Daniels||Center Valley, PA||73|
|Jerry Horton||Hightstown, NJ||73|
|Tom Yellin||New York, NY||73|
|#Thomas Borsello||Wilmington, DE||74|
|Alternates (in order)|
|#Andy Thompson||Newtown Square, PA||74|
|#Mark Surtees||Middletown, DE||75|
|Failed to Qualify|
|Drew Panebianco||Dresher, PA||75|
|Robert Billings||Media, PA||75|
|Neal Schuman||Upper Saddle River, NJ||75|
|James Sullivan||Huntingdon Valley, PA||76|
|Raymond Thompson||Drexel Hill, PA||76|
|Robert Howe||Larchmont, NY||76|
|Daniel Burton||Lititz, PA||77|
|O. Gordon Brewer||Pine Valley, NJ||77|
|Richard Umani||West Chester, PA||77|
|Michael Rose||Huntingdon Valley, PA||78|
|Stan Zabytko||Rehoboth Beach, DE||78|
|Frank Ciulla||Scarsdale, NY||79|
|Gary Daniels||Berwyn, PA||79|
|Gerry Barnett||Manasquan, NJ||79|
|Robert Dietrich||Colts Neck, NJ||79|
|Roc Irey||Furlong, PA||79|
|Tom Dicinti||Voorhees, NJ||79|
|Tom Greenwood||Cranbury, NJ||79|
|Carl Everett||Havertown, PA||80|
|Charles McClaskey||Elkton, MD||80|
|Ed Chylinski||Gulph Mills, PA||80|
|Jim Haynie||North Wales, PA||80|
|John Williams||Skillman, NJ||80|
|Michael Miklinevich||Margate, NJ||80|
|Bob Majczan||Richboro, PA||81|
|Charles McDowell||Wilmington, DE||81|
|Craig Scott||Marshalls Creek, PA||81|
|Larry Novinger||Millersburg, PA||81|
|Lee Cook||Moorestown, NJ||81|
|Michael Egan||Doylestown, PA||81|
|Michael Nilon||Gladwyne, PA||81|
|Michael Quinn||East Fallowfield, PA||81|
|Richard Speranza||Washington Crossing, PA||81|
|Frank Polizzi||Plymouth Meeting, PA||82|
|Joseph Maxwell||Newark, DE||82|
|Neil McDermott||Newtown Square, PA||82|
|Richard Awalt||Havre De Grace, MD||82|
|Timothy Hultquist||Greenwich, CT||82|
|Clark Hargrove||Haverford, PA||83|
|Curtis Fromal||Folsom, PA||83|
|Donald Ashley||Newtown Square, PA||83|
|Joe Viechnicki||Bethlehem, PA||83|
|Michael Marotta||Freehold, NJ||83|
|Mike Atkins||Mountville, PA||83|
|Bill Vostinak||Allentown, PA||84|
|Bo Dixon||Lutherville, MD||84|
|David Brookreson||Huntingdon Valley, PA||84|
|Gene Ryzewicz||Westport, CT||84|
|Richard Smith||Villanova, PA||84|
|Thomas Bartolacci||Washington Crossing, PA||84|
|Walter Wolfe||Millville, NJ||84|
|Eugene Maginnis||Lafayette Hill, PA||85|
|H. Jay Guerin||Fremont, CA||85|
|Henry Kong||New York, NY||85|
|Steven Lewis||Gwynedd Valley, PA||85|
|Theodore Beringer||Mount Laurel, NJ||85|
|Michael Rowland||Emmaus, PA||86|
|Charles Whipple||Meadowbrook, PA||87|
|Craig Aronchick||Villanova, PA||87|
|Fred Jones||Califon, NJ||87|
|Edward Furman||Blue Bell, PA||88|
|Greg Gaul||Berwyn, PA||89|
|Joseph Marucci||Titusville, NJ||89|
|Paul Keating||Haverford, PA||90|
|Thomas Mairone||Glen Mills, PA||90|
|Albert Flora, Jr.||Wilkes-Barre, PA||91|
|Art Brosius||Wilmington, DE||91|
|Dennis Campbell||Orwigsburg, PA||91|
|Bob Abramski||Fort Washington, PA||93|
|Douglas Kahl||Little Egg Harbor, NJ||94|
|Andy Hardy||Mechanicsburg, PA||95|
|Jeffrey Blutstein||Ridgefield, CT||97|
|Joseph Stahley||Keyport, NJ||99|
|Douglas Fraser||Mays Landing, NJ||WD|
|Francis Mc Fadden||Newtown Square, PA||WD|
|Hal Stupp||Ardmore, PA||DQ|
|Harry Gianetti||Bedminster, NJ||WD|
|Hugh Kenworthy||Newtown Square, PA||WD|
|Matthew Bellis||Ambler, PA||WD|
|Stephanos Kyriakodis||Newtown, PA||WD|
|Thomas Evans||Bronxville, NY||WD|
|# – advanced in playoff; WD – withdrawal; DQ -disqualification|
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