(Steve Fischer of Premier Golf & Utility Vehicles and Mick Smith)
As they say, letting go can be the hardest thing to do. When the WPGA Professional Championship got underway on Monday morning a familiar item would appear on the no. 1 tee. 2020 champion Mick Smith would arrive with the traveling trophy in hand, and of course a joke about letting the WPGA use it for a few days.
However, to Smith it most likely wasn’t a joke.
In just under three years as a WPGA member the Australian has quickly earned a reputation as one of the top players in the Wisconsin Section. On Tuesday he’d reaffirm that reputation as he’d claim his second straight WPGA Professional Championship. Becoming the first to pull off the back-to-back feat since Jim Schuman did so in 2001 and 2002.
With nine players within three shots of the lead to start the day, the Summit resident knew he’d have to be on top of his game to take home the win. That challenge was made especially hard as the field would face gusty conditions throughout the day. For Smith it’d play right into his hands, just as it did in last year’s find round.
“I just like it when it is tough,” Smith said. “I know a lot of guys give in to that, so I’m dealing with a lot less out there.”
But just like last year, it’d take the 48-year-old a little while to get the momentum going. Through six holes of play he was 2-over on the day and three shots off the lead. At the time it seemed like everyone was taking a turn holding the lead except for Smith.
Over the course of the round seven players would have a share of the lead at one time, and it truly was anyone’s tournament to win.
As for Smith he’d quickly start to head in the right direction by hitting the par-5 8th in two and two-putting for birdie.
After three pars in a row the solid ball striking and putting would take over and push him back into the mix.
With the 202-yard par-3 12th playing right into the wind, he’d strike a 3-iron to 40 feet, pin high. Facing a tough two putt that had to carry up and over a ridge he’d roll in the unlikely birdie.
“I hit a lovely putt,” Smith said. “I thought it had a good chance and it went in.”
He’d then back it up by hitting it to eight feet on the par-4 13th. After another nice birdie he’d own a share of the lead with Tom Burton.
Smith would turn out to be the only player in the field to card birdie on those two holes on Tuesday.
As the duo made their way down the home stretch of holes the remaining contenders would slip back and it’d turn into a two-horse race.
The two would finally separate on the par-4 16th as Smith would hit a great drive, then strike a 9-iron to 12 feet. After sinking the birdie putt, he would own a one-shot lead with two to play.
“I just had a good read on it and I rolled it right into the middle,” Smith said.
For Burton he would not go away quietly. On both no. 17 and 18 he’d have quality birdie looks, but each time the putt would burn the edge and not drop.
Although Burton would be unable to put the pressure on Smith, it was almost an unforced error that would put Smith into a playoff. However, his great ball-striking would save the day on no. 18. Playing from the right-hand trees he’d hit a punch six-iron from 125 yards on to the green. After a delicate two-putt he’d have his par and a one-shot win.
For Smith the win also brings him another chance to play in the PGA Professional Championship. He’ll lead a group of five WPGA members next April at OMNI Barton Creek Resort & Spa.
Joining Smith in the field in Texas will be Burton, Erik Stenseth, Jim Schuman and Jeff Kaiser.
The WPGA would like to thank both our presenting and supporting sponsors of the 2021 WPGA Professional Championship. With their help and support the the WPGA was able to present a top notch championship once again. A great deal of gratitude goes out to all the company representatives that made it out to the event and lent a helping hand.
We would also like to convey our appreciation to our host site The University Club of Milwaukee. The club did a great job of making sure all the participants felt welcome and attended to, while presenting a great test of golf.