Kyle Schmidt had never competed in a match play golf tournament before last weekend.
The recent Lakota East High School graduate figured he should try it out before heading off to play at the University of Dayton this fall so he entered one of the big local tournaments he had always heard about growing up. He surprised himself with how well he managed the adjustment to a different style of golf.
Schmidt did so well, in fact, that he won the 110th Tony Blom Metropolitan Amateur Championship on Sunday at Oasis Golf Club/Shaker Run Golf Club in Lebanon. The event began June 25 and 26 with a 36-hole stroke play individual qualifier, and then the former Thunderhawks standout worked his way through five head-to-head matches to advance to the final.
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“I wanted to try match play because the NCAA Championships work that way so I wanted to make sure I would be prepared for college,” Schmidt said. “It was different for me. It’s a different mindset focusing on one guy instead of the course. It surprised me I could pull it off and beat all those different guys, but I just stayed full of confidence and I was excited to win it, especially being my first time. I grew up knowing it was a big tournament to win because it’s all ages and it’s pretty competitive. It felt good.”
Schmidt actually approached match play like he would a regular tournament and stayed focus on his game, rather than the opponent. It worked out for him.
After edging out Garrett Wood 1-up in the semifinals, Schmidt beat future UD teammate Domenic Maricocchi in the final. He ended the match up five with four holes to go.
“The final was a little different,” Schmidt said. “I was a lot more nervous going into it. I just focused on slowing everything down and playing at a slower pace. When you’re nervous everything seems to go faster so there’s a lot more pressure on every shot. I told myself to slow down, take deep breaths and figured it would be less pressure-packed and I would perform better that way. I did a pretty good job of just staying in the moment.”
The final score made the match seem easier than it actually was, Schmidt said.
“It was still difficult but Domenic and I were both really tired from all the days previously golfing, so I figured if I applied a little pressure I could make a little run at it, and that’s just how it worked out,” Schmidt said. “I won some holes and finished him off pretty quickly.”
Schmidt earned the fifth seed in qualifying and won one of his matches up seven with six holes to go and another one up six with five left. His semifinal opponent, Wood, had knocked out the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals. Maricocchi was the highest seeded player Schdmidt met, at No. 6.
A strong short game helped Schmidt advance through the tournament, though, and that’s not always the case for him.
“Putting was the factor that put me ahead of everybody else because when you make putts it demoralizes the guy you are playing,” Schmidt said. “I don’t usually putt that well, but I came out and something felt right and I was able to lock in a lot of putts, which helps going down the stretch.”
Winning the prestigious tournament gives Schmidt some added confidence going into college. The three-time Greater Miami Conference champion golfer feels much better prepared than he did a week ago.
“I played against a lot of college guys and past college guys, so it was good for getting confidence I can beat college guys,” Schmidt said. “I know I can do the same thing at the NCAA level.”
Schmidt will tee it up this week in the Ohio Amateur at Moraine County Club in Dayton.