ORLANDO, Fla. — Brookville native Nathan Smith shot a 1-over-par 73 in the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge Thursday.
Smith is one of just two amateur players in the 120-player PGA Tour event. He was invited by Palmer to play in the event last year.
“He had mentioned to me at Latrobe at the Palmer Cup last year if I wanted to play in his event. I told him I’d be honored and the invitation came a couple of weeks ago,” Smith said Monday.
“I was blown away to be invited by the King. It certainly ranks up there. I’m honored and humbled,” Smith added.
Smith would have to make the cut to play the Saturday and Sunday rounds. He was one of 15 players tied for 76th place, among them his former Walker Cup teammate Rickie Fowler. At the top of the leaderboard after Thursday’s first round was Adam Scott at 10-under-par.
Smith’s round consisted of three bogeys, two birdies and 13 pars. He bogeyed Nos. 1 and 8 on the front nine while carding a birdie on the par-3 No. 7 hole. On the back nine, Smith birdied No. 16 and bogeyed the No. 18 hole. He tees off in the last threesome of Friday’s round at 2:08 p.m. with Jim Renner and Billy Hurley III.
A lifetime amateur, Smith is the most decorated golfer from District 9, winning the PIAA title as a sophomore back in 1994. He was a four-time NCAA Division III All-American at Allegheny College. Smith won four USGA Mid-Amateur titles in 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012, which earned him four invitations to play in the Masters. In the 2004 Masters, Smith played with Palmer in his final round at Augusta National. Smith has also played on three U.S. Walker Cup teams in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Smith has the distinction of being one of 16 golfers in the history of the USGA to win four or more titles in the same event. Others on that list include Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.