Miller and Smith Carry Buffalo's Hopes to US Amateur 4-Ball Championship
Two of the Buffalo area's top amateur golfers joined forces last fall to qualify for the 2018 USGA US Amateur 4-Ball championship, to be held at Jupiter Hills Club in Florida, this weekend. Jamie Miller and Dr. James Smith posted a 7-under 65 at Park Country Club in late September, tying for the top spot and earning a trip to Tequesta. Since Miller is a member of the Buffalo District Golf Association's board of directors, it is fitting to have his thoughts on the event and its execution. To be fair, we also asked the good doctor for input. Have a look at our super-quick, 3-question interview with Jamie Miller and James Smith.
1. What convinced you two to partner up for this event?
We play together a lot at Crag Burn and down south. I’m long and crooked and Smitty is dead center straight. The only thing you need to ask Smitty about where his drive went is which side of the fairway he hit. We played together in the Senior Junior at the Dye Preserve a couple of times when Smitty’s usual partner, Tony Hejna, was making a transition. We enjoyed it so we signed up to try and qualify in 2016. The qualifier was at Crag Burn and we shot 67. We ultimately lost in a 3 for 2 spot playoff. We got redemption this year!
2. What were the keys to your qualifying success last fall?
The keys to qualifying success was a back up set of clubs and a birdie run on the back 9. I left my clubs the day before at Pine Valley Golf Club after losing in the semi finals of the Crump Cup. I went to wash my towel when I got home at 9 PM to realize that my clubs weren’t in my trunk. I put together a set of older clubs and was able to play. We shot 36 on the front and we’re not very good, we then went on a run and birdied 7 of the last 10 for a 29 on the back and 65. We ultimately had one team tie us and there were two spots. Luckily for us we didn’t have another playoff and we got in and won a medalist medallion.
3. Tell us about the Jupiter Hills Club and what you anticipate will be critical to your success, beyond the usual "fairways, greens and few putts."
The weather is looking pretty suspect so I think patience is going to be critical. We are paired with the defending champions who I think are both 17, I’m going to be 33 on the Monday of the tournament (roughly their combined age) and Smitty will be 69 years old. Needless to say we’re going to look like some of the more “experienced” players. Smitty and I both like to have fun so I think the biggest thing is making sure we’re having a good time. We will likely each have a cigar or two on the course. We’re both good ball strikers which I think will help us fare well at Jupiter Hills. We’re both very competitive and I think it’s going to be a good time. My wife, Candice, is coming with me and she and Smitty’s wife, Bev, get along really well. I think if anything Smitty and I are just as worried about their spending habits at TJ Maxx as to how we’re going to fare. The first goal is to make match play, after that, who knows what could happen!
UPDATE: The weather is challenging, as part of the field did not complete play on day 1 of medal qualifying. Another, smaller part did not tee off. Miller and Smith posted 37-33 for 70 and find themselves 5 shots behind the leaders. A successful 2nd round could position them to qualify for match play. Here are two images of golfers and the courses, that convey the impact of the weather. To follow the event, visit the USGA tournament page. Credit to the USGA for photography.