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Smith satisfied with his amateur play

Smith satisfied with his amateur play

Former Turlock golf standout Sam Smith is set to play in the Northern California Golf Association Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach next weekend.


POSTED June 30, 2009 11:11 p.m.
The first thing to know about Sam Smith’s performance at the 98th California State Amateur Championship at Lake Merced Golf Course in Daly City last week is that it wasn’t heartbreaking or dissatisfying despite the ending.
It was actually very encouraging.
Smith, the former Turlock High star, lost in a close semifinal match against eventual champion and Cal Poly senior Geoff Gonzalez on Friday afternoon. Gonzalez captured the title by winning 2-up after pulling off consecutive lengthy putts on the 12th and 13th holes to even it up in a match with neither player able to establish more than a two-hole lead.
It went back and forth all afternoon. But Gonzalez finalized Smith’s fate anyway, concluding the intense match with two birdies. Afterward, Gonzalez said, “Right now I’m riding a huge wave of confidence,” which he used to propel himself to victory in the championship match against Jeff Wilson of Fairfield.
“I lost to a good opponent,” Smith said of his semifinal challenger. “I didn’t come through.”
Overall, the USC-bound golfer had a good day. He hadn’t played competitive golf for several months, and he doesn’t consider himself the best match-play golfer. But he still managed to pull of stunning plays.
Smith jumped out ahead in the final hour holes for a 2-and-1 victory over future USC teammate Martin Trainer of Palo Alto to advance to the quarterfinals. And then early Friday morning, Smith went up against 41-year-old Jason Bittick of Ladera Ranch (Orange County) in his toughest match of the tournament, as he played from behind.
Smith won the 18th hole, coming from three holes down with five to play.
“It was really exciting,” he said about the thriller. “It was the best match I’ve played lately.”
In all, Smith said last week’s showing provided encouragement for future tournaments — as he’s set to play in the Northern California Golf Association Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach next weekend.
“It gives me more confidence in my game and the ability to compete in match play,” Smith said. “In the past, I wasn’t the best in my match play. It gave me renewed confidence.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.

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