Smith qualifies for U.S. Amateur

Becomes fourth Blue Raider to do so

August 4, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee golfer Craig Smith earned the right to participate in the U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine National Golf Course, Aug. 21-27, in Chaska, Minn., following his sparkling two-day performance at the USGA sectional qualifier this week.

Smith becomes the fourth Blue Raider to qualify for the U.S. Amateur - regarded as the pinnacle of amateur golf - after earning low medalist honors at USGA sectional qualifying at Camp Creek Golf Club in Watersound, Fla.

Smith, who prepped at Davidson Academy where he earned Tennessee State Player of the Year honors in 2004, joins former Blue Raiders Brett Alexander (2000), Charlie Gibson (2000), and current teammate Spencer Provow as Middle Tennessee linksters who have qualified for the U.S. Amateur.

"This is a great honor and I'm excited to have the opportunity," said Smith, who hails from Springfield, Tenn. "I was able to put together a solid round at the qualifier in order to have this chance and it's something that all amateur golfers dream of being able to do."

Smith earned low medalist honors and was one of two players among the more than 75 entries into sectional qualifier at Camp Creek to qualify for the U.S. Amateur after firing a two-round-total 144. Hudson Swafford, who hails from Tallahassee, Fla., and will be attending UNLV this fall, was the other qualifier from Camp Creek after shooting a 146.

The challenging course at Camp Creek features one of Florida's highest slope ratings at 145, and its final three holes - a 215-yard par-3, a 559-yard par-5 and a 453-yard par-4, present one of the most difficult finishing stretches in the state, which makes Smith being the only golfer in the field to shoot par for the two-day event even more impressive.

"It's a very difficult course and that's the way it is supposed to be when you are trying to qualify for the U.S. Amateur," said Johnny Moore, Middle Tennessee Head Golf coach. "Craig had to play very well to earn this shot and he did. We are looking forward to big things from him at Middle Tennessee for the upcoming season and in the future."

The U.S. Amateur is the United States Golf Association's oldest championship and was first played in 1895 at Newport Golf Club in Rhode Island. It is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA.

Smith is one in a series of Blue Raider golfers who have turned in solid performances this summer.

Nick Bailes recently finished 10th at the Southern Open and is currently the 146th-rated amateur in the world. Newcomer Kent Bulle was one of 3,267 entries into the 2006 U.S. Junior Amateur and made the field of 64 before falling in match play.

"We have some good young players who have played very well on some difficult courses this summer," said Whit Turnbow, assistant golf coach at Middle Tennessee. "They all have improved during the summer months and had some excellent rounds, and we expect that to continue into the fall and spring seasons for us."

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