Bridgehampton, N.Y. – A pair of two-time champions, Nathan Smith and Tim Jackson, advanced with victories Tuesday in the early portion of the second round of match play at the rain-suspended 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Atlantic Golf Club.
Smith, 32, of Pittsburgh, Pa., who won in 2003 and 2009 and was a tri-medalist in stroke play, defeated John Engler, 31, of Augusta, Ga.
The champion in 1994 and 2001, Jackson, 51, of Germantown, Tenn., beat Joe Jaspers, 44, of Huntersville, N.C., 2 and 1.
The second round was suspended because of dangerous weather conditions at 12:06 p.m. EST with just five of 16 second-round matches complete.
Playing in the day’s first starting time, Smith built a 2-up lead through nine holes that grew to 3 up when he birdied the par-5 13th.
The left-handed Engler,a reinstated amateur who recovered from injuries suffered in a major car accident, won three consecutive holes to square the match after 16 holes. Smith then birdied the driveable par-4 17th from the left greenside bunker to regain his advantage. The pair halved the par-5 18th with bogeys.
He just hung in there, Smith said of Engler. I made some putts early. It seemed like there were 4 or 5 holes in a row where he made a putt for birdie or par from 5 or 10 feet. He just kept hanging around, hanging around.
Smith, who represented the USA at the 2009 Walker Cup Match, maintained the importance of putting, a strong part of his game.
I think anybody that you’ve seen win this tournament, they have to make putts and make timely putts, Smith said. I’ve been able to do that through stroke play. I don’t know if I can keep going but usually when I have won it, I’ve been able to make some key putts at some key times.
Jackson, who has been the low amateur at the last two U.S. Senior Opens, finished his match just as the siren sounded to suspend play.
It was pretty solid, said Jackson. I didn’t hit too many balls out of play and made a couple of timely putts. He’s a solid player. He wasn’t scraping it around. It was a couple of key swings here and there.
With his 29th career Mid-Amateur match-play win, Jackson advanced to face Todd Burgan, 41, of Knoxville, Tenn., who was his teammate in the recent USGA Men’s State Team Championship.
I’ve got to play one of my home boys, said Jackson, the president of the Tennessee Golf Association. That really happens a lot. Todd and I have become friends over the last four or five years. His game has gotten much, much better. He won our state match play last year. He’s very, very capable. It will come down to who makes the least mistakes in these conditions. It’s not a matter of who makes the most birdies. It’s who makes the least mistakes.
Officials hope to resume play of the second round Tuesday afternoon.