Smith, three others get through U.S. Amateur playoff

Nathan Smith advanced to the Round of 64 at the U.S. Amateur by going birdie-par in a playoff on Wednesday morning at Atlanta Athletic Club.

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Nathan Smith says that his five-year drought from U.S. Amateur match play has felt a bit longer than that.

Forgive him, but maybe his "old" age is finally catching up to him.

The 36-year-old mid-amateur star was the last man into the Round of 64 at the Atlanta Athletic Club in a 17-for-4 playoff Wednesday morning, tapping in an 18-inch putt on the Riverside course's par-3 eighth hole to advance for the first time since 2009 at Southern Hills.

His reward? A 2:10 p.m. EDT match with top-seeded Lee McCoy, who was 8 under in 36 holes of stroke play.

"I am sure he is excited, licking his chops. He gets the old guy," said Smith, who will partake in match play for the fourth time in 14 U.S. Amateur appearances, advancing as far as the Round of 16 in 2000. "It's an honor to make match play. It means a lot. It seems like a college-guys tournament; the majority of the field is college guys."

Smith, one of three mid-amateurs remaining in the field, joins Garrett Rank, Zach Healy and Jesse Heinly in advancing to match play.

The 17-man playoff quickly whittled was down to six players after the first hole of the playoff, with all six making birdie at Riverside's par-5 No. 1 hole. Pars at the second playoff hole, Riverside's No. 8, then separated the four to advance.

Rank was the first one through and will face Kennesaw State's Jimmy Beck, while Heinly will face second-seeded Taylor Moore and Healy will take on Washington standout Cheng-Tsung Pan.

"Obviously there are 312 really good players here and I worked really hard all week and played really well. It’s just cool to still be apart of this championship," said Rank. "Now it doesn’t matter if I’m a 60th seed, I still have a chance to win this thing."

– Cassie Stein contributed to this report

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