As a young golfer growing up in Sydney, Australia, Mick Smith couldn’t have imagined himself winding up on the other side of the world, in a place called Wisconsin.
It’s been an interesting journey, with a stop along the way at NCAA Division II Columbus State in Georgia, followed by a stint back home on the Australian PGA Tour, and finally a move back to the U.S. in 2000, this time to stay. He met his wife, a Wisconsin girl, and settled down in Summit.
“I wouldn’t have thought I’d end up in Wisconsin, but I’m so glad that I have,” said the 48-year-old Smith. “I have a great wife and two beautiful daughters that I wouldn’t change for the world. I love my life here and all the friends that I’ve got here and the guys I get to play golf with. I’m very happy. I’m glad the way things turned out.”
Australia’s loss was the Wisconsin PGA Section’s gain.
On Tuesday, Smith birdied three of the last six holes at the University Club of Milwaukee, fired a 2-under 69 and became the first back-to-back winner of the WPGA Professional Championship since Jim Schuman in 2001-’02.
Smith, who teaches at The Practice Station in New Berlin, finished at 3-under 139 in the 36-hole tournament, one stroke ahead of Thomas Burton of Hidden Glen in Cedarburg, who also closed with a 69 and finished at 140.
Erik Stenseth of University Ridge Golf Course and Schuman, who teaches at Blue Mound Golf & Country Club in Wauwatosa, tied for third at 142. Stenseth shot a 69 and Schuman, a four-time winner of this event, shot a 71.
“It’s not my goal to beat those guys,” Smith said. “I like and respect them. I’m just trying to play as good as I can and see where I come out. I just like playing well and if I end up at the top, that’s good.”
Burton, Schuman and Stenseth all jockeyed for the lead on the front nine, while Smith fell off the pace with a double-bogey on the par-4 sixth hole.
“I hit a high-draw 5-wood (off the tee) but just turned it over a little more than I wanted,” he said. “It hit a tree and we couldn’t find the ball. Just unlucky.”
Burton birdied the par-5 11th hole to get to 2-under for the tournament but couldn’t get another putt to drop, finishing with seven consecutive pars. Schuman shot 2-under on the front nine to move into a share of the lead, but made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14.
Smith, meanwhile, fought his way back into contention after the double. He hit the green in two on the par-5 eighth and two-putted from 40 feet for a birdie. Then he rolled in a long birdie putt on the par-3 12th to get back to even for the round and 1-under for the tournament.
“Twelve was probably the best birdie of the day,” he said. “It was 213 yards into a hard wind. I hit a 3-iron just past pin-high but left, about 35 feet, coming up over a rise and back down toward the hole. I holed it, and that got me going. I hit a really nice drive on the next hole, middle of the fairway, then hit a low punch 8-iron to about eight feet and rolled it in for birdie there.”
That pulled him into a tie for the lead with Burton, and Smith went ahead by one when he made a curling 12-footer for birdie on the par-4 16th.
“I always watch the leaderboard, so I knew when I birdied 16, I was one ahead,” he said.
He parred the last two holes and picked up the $4,000 first prize.
Smith will lead five qualifiers into the 2022 PGA Professional Championship, to be played in April at Omni Barton Creek in Austin, Texas. Also advancing to the national championship were Burton, Stenseth, Schuman and Jeff Kaiser of the TaylorMade Player Development Center, who finished at 1-over 143 and won a four-man playoff for the final spot.
Earlier this year, Smith finished T-22 at the PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The low 20 scorers earned exemptions into the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in May. Smith missed by one shot.
“Unfortunately, on the last hole I hit a ball under the lip of a bunker and made a double-bogey, so I’m fortunate to go back again and have another crack at it,” he said. “I think I’ll feel a bit more relaxed and comfortable going into the tournament this time, so I’ll try and do a better job.”
|1||Mick Smith The Practice Station||-3||F||-2||70||69||139||$4,000|
|2||Thomas Burton Hidden Glen||-2||F||-2||71||69||140||$3,000|
|T3||Erik Stenseth University Ridge GC||E||F||-2||73||69||142||$2,025|
|T3||Jim Schuman Blue Mound G&CC||E||F||E||71||71||142||$2,025|
|T5||David Roesch Storm's Golf Range||+1||F||-3||75||68||143||$1,162|
|T5||Mark Voeller Golf Galaxy - Brookfield||+1||F||+1||71||72||143||$1,162|
|T5||Michael Crowley Morningstar GC||+1||F||+1||71||72||143||$1,162|
|T5||Jeffrey Kaiser TaylorMade Player Dev Center||+1||F||+3||69||74||143||$1,162|
|T9||Jamie Christianson Horseshoe Bay GC||+3||F||+1||73||72||145||$803|
|T9||Ryan Helminen Ridgeway CC||+3||F||+4||70||75||145||$803|
|T9||Timothy Schroyer Pine Hills CC||+3||F||+6||68||77||145||$803|
|T12||Andy Hansen University Club||+4||F||E||75||71||146||$623|
|T12||Chad Sandee The Bull||+4||F||+3||72||74||146||$623|
|T12||Kraig Joy Ridgeway CC||+4||F||+5||70||76||146||$623|
|T15||Joe Leonard The Oaks GC||+5||F||+2||74||73||147||$498|
|T15||David Bach Whistling Straits GC||+5||F||+4||72||75||147||$498|
|17||Joe DeRosa La Crosse CC||+6||F||+2||75||73||148||$440|
|T18||Craig Czerniejewski Washington County GC||+7||F *||+2||76||73||149||$410|
|T18||Tyler Siech Ozaukee CC||+7||F||+3||75||74||149||$410|
|T20||Brad Munn First Tee of S.Central WI||+8||F||+4||75||75||150||$370|
|T20||Kurt Mantyla Naga-Waukee GC||+8||F||+7||72||78||150||$370|
|T22||Jason Tipton Chenequa CC||+9||F||+5||75||76||151||$311|
|T22||Alex Jimenez Grand Geneva||+9||F *||+2||78||73||151||$311|
|T22||Scott Mowatt Lake Windsor||+9||F||+7||73||78||151||$311|
|T22||John Freeman Edgewood GC||+9||F||+8||72||79||151||$311|
|T26||Charlie Brown Geneva National GC||+10||F *||+5||76||76||152||$195|
|T26||Mark Becker Irish Waters GC||+10||F||+7||74||78||152||$195|
|T26||Brett Weber Delbrook GC||+10||F||+7||74||78||152||$195|
|T26||Jake Wisniewski Ozaukee CC||+10||F||+8||73||79||152||$195|
|30||Tim Grogan Fore Milwaukee||+11||F||+8||74||79||153||$0|
|31||Brian Brodell X Golf Mequon||+12||F||+9||74||80||154||$0|
|T32||Jeff Ellingson Edelweiss Chalet CC||+13||F *||+6||78||77||155||$0|
|T32||Mark Krause Muskego Lakes CC||+13||F *||+5||79||76||155||$0|
|T34||Andrew Troyanek Rivermoor GC||+14||F *||+8||77||79||156||$0|
|T34||Jason Samuelian Meadowbrook CC||+14||F *||+7||78||78||156||$0|
|T34||Keith Buntrock Tuckaway CC||+14||F *||+6||79||77||156||$0|
|T34||Ryan Wieme University Ridge GC||+14||F *||+6||79||77||156||$0|
|T34||Dave Kemnitz Minocqua CC||+14||F *||+6||79||77||156||$0|
|T39||Jon Zellmer Lake Ripley CC||+15||F *||+9||77||80||157||$0|
|T39||Andrew Barrett Brown Deer Park GC||+15||F *||+5||81||76||157||$0|
|41||Chad Behrends Western Lakes GC||+16||F *||+5||82||76||158||$0|
|42||Austin Schloesser University Club||+17||F *||+9||79||80||159||$0|
|T43||Matthew Reel Koshkonong Mounds CC||+18||F *||+12||77||83||160||$0|
|T43||Peter Krause Wisconsin Club||+18||F *||+10||79||81||160||$0|
|T43||Jason Rasmussen Ozaukee CC||+18||F *||+6||83||77||160||$0|
|46||Matt Taken Tuckaway CC||+19||F *||+9||81||80||161||$0|
|47||Daniel Hoffman Tour Edge||+20||F *||+8||83||79||162||$0|
|T48||Dylan Hills University Club||+21||F||+17||75||88||163||$0|
|T48||Victor Jacinto Tuckaway CC||+21||F *||+13||79||84||163||$0|
|T48||Nick Tarasoff Kettle Hills GC||+21||F *||+12||80||83||163||$0|
|T51||Jim Gaugert Harris Golf Cars||+22||F *||+14||79||85||164||$0|
|T51||Robert Elliott Rob Elliott Golf||+22||F *||+13||80||84||164||$0|
|53||Michael Miezin X Golf Brookfield||+24||F *||+17||78||88||166||$0|
|54||Matt Kersten Glen Erin GC||+25||F *||+14||82||85||167||$0|
|55||Gunnar Stapp North Shore CC||+26||F *||+14||83||85||168||$0|
|DID NOT FINISH|
|WD||Nathan Gray Fire Ridge GC||+7||42||42||$0|
|WD||Jerry Collins Timber Ridge GC||$0|
|WD||Austin Gaugert ABG Ventures||$0|