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June 18th, 2004, 05:46 am
<blockquote><p align=justify><b>Michael Smith wins tourney</b>

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - One of the most consistent rounds of Michael Smith's young golf career came at the most important time.

The Lafayette product turned in a one-under-par 69 Thursday in the final round of the Southern Golf Association's 32nd Southern Junior Golf Championship, and that was good enough to give Smith a convincing triumph in one of the nation's most prestigious junior events.

"There's no question this is my biggest win," Smith said after finishing the three-round event with a two-under-par 71-68-69-208 score over the difficult Sea Island Seaside Course, finishing four strokes in front of the field.

Smith, who completed his high school career at St. Thomas More this spring and signed to play at University of Louisiana beginning this fall, opened Thursday's final round with a one-stroke lead over the field, but had eight golfers within four shots of him heading into the last 18 holes.

<center><p><a href="http://www.theadvertiser.com/sports/html/71317F54-3C2C-4848-B3BC-CAD6CBCEB7A5.shtml">The rest of the story</a>

Dan McDonald
dmcdonald@lafayette.gannett.com <!--

He proceeded to post a solid round that included two birdies and only one bogey - and the lone bogey came on the 18th hole after he had already assured himself of the title.

"I pretty much knew where I stood over the final few holes," said the 18-year-old Smith. "So I was just trying to keep it in the fairway and make pars coming in. This course is really hard, and it's so important to hit fairways."

Previous winners of the Southern Juniors include current PGA Tour players Charles Howell III and Justin Leonard along with former UL Lafayette All-American and current Nationwide Tour pro Rob McKelvey.

Smith made a series of pressure par-saving putts in the final round on the way to earning an exemption into the Southern Amateur Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn., next month. He holed a 15-footer for par at the ninth hole and a 12-footer for par at the 14th.

The biggest putt, though, was a 10-footer for a deuce on the par-three 17th hole that gave him a commanding lead with one hole to go. Homestate product Mark Silvers of Savannah was playing two groups ahead of Smith and was within two shots of the lead at that time, but Silvers double-bogeyed the final hole just before Smith rolled in his putt on 17.
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