As Nathan Smith drove away from Waynesborough Country Club yesterday on his way home to Western Pennsylvania, he might have been thinking about a possible return trip to the Philadelphia area in about six weeks.
Certainly, there would be much more fanfare than there was yesterday, when Smith fired a 5-under-par 66 en route to a 4-stroke victory in the Pennsylvania Amateur.
If that return journey happens, it means Smith would be a member of the U.S. Walker Cup team, representing his country at Merion Golf Club against Great Britain and Ireland, something he said would be "a dream and an honor."
Watching the 2007 Walker Cup on television, Smith, 30, said he had tears in his eyes when the United States pulled out the victory following an eagle on the 18th hole by Jonathan Moore.
"It was great watching those guys," he said. "I wish I could have been with them. Then I saw [the 2009 competition] was at Merion, and I said, 'I'm going to give it one last shot.' It's at Merion, in Pennsylvania, and Buddy [Marucci] is the captain."
Smith, of Brookville, has the credentials. He tied for fourth at the Sunnehanna Amateur, tied for seventh in both the Northeast and Southern Amateurs, and tied for 13th at the Porter Cup, where he played two rounds with Marucci.
Golfweek.com ranks Smith eighth on its Walker Cup watch list. Ten players will be on the team.
The question is whether a mid-amateur, someone 25 years old or older, can get on the team with all the great college players under consideration.
"I'm all for it," said Marucci, contacted yesterday at the U.S. Senior Open in Carmel, Ind. "I've said before, there should be no bias one way or the other. It would be great to get [a mid-amateur] on the team.
"Nathan's a wonderful player. He's played well all year. He's really earned some consideration."
Smith played very well yesterday in winning his second Pennsylvania Amateur title after runner-up finishes each of the last two years. He hit 16 greens on the 6,943-yard Waynesborough course in Paoli, and none of his five birdie putts was longer than 10 feet.
Smith's third birdie, at No. 10, was followed by a 45-minute lightning delay. He then posted what was to be the game-breaker, a 7-iron to 5 feet and a birdie at the tough 175-yard 14th.
"That kind of won the tournament for me," he said. "That's a guessing game there because of the water, and I guessed right."
Smith finished 54 holes at 7-under 206. Robert Rohanna of Nemacolin Woodlands fired a 70 and took second at 210, 1 stroke ahead of Tony Perla Jr. of Radnor Valley, who had a 68.
Nathan Smith, Pinecrest. . . 68-72-66–206
Robert Rohanna, Nemacolin Woodlands. . . 71-69-70–210
Tony Perla Jr., Radnor Valley. . . 68-75-68–211
Nathan Sutherland, Golden Oaks. . . 70-70-72–212
Chad Bricker, Waynesboro. . . 70-73-70–213
Travis Howe, Corey Creek. . . 73-68-72–213
Christopher Ault, Yardley. . . 69-71-73–213
Jeffrey Griest, Waynesborough. . . 71-68-74–213
Chad Warmbein, Rolling Hills. . . 69-70-74–213
Conrad Von Borsig, Concord. . . 70-73-71–214
Daniel Charen, Yardley. . . 69-73-72–214
David DeNunzio, Latrobe. . . 75-72-68–215
Matt Smith, Whitford. . . 73-74-68–215
Brandon Detweiler, Lancaster. . . 70-75-70–215
Matt Vogt, Connoquenessing. . . 72-71-72–215
Christian Davis, Glenmaura National. . . 73-73-70–216
Jon Pratkanis, Kittanning. . . 72-71-73–216
Andrew Guaraldo, Waynesborough. . . 74-72-71–217
Gregor Orlando, Kahkwa Club. . . 74-72-71–217
Christopher Schultz, Squires. . . 73-70-74–217
Zak Drescher, Lancaster. . . 72-70-75–217
Michael Kania, Overbrook. . . 68-70-79–217
Adam Hoffman, Fox Chapel. . . 73-73-72–218
Cory Siegfried, Phila Country. . . 71-73-74–218
Matt Moot, Windber. . . 70-72-76–219