NeSmith to play PGA Tour's Wyndham

Matthew NeSmith pumps his fist as he wins his match at Hole No. 16 against West's Thomas Lim during Thursday's single matches.

Matthew NeSmith pumps his fist as he wins his match at Hole No. 16 against West's Thomas Lim during Thursday's single matches.

The nation’s top-ranked junior player won’t be at this week’s U.S. Amateur. He was exempt for the championship, but he’ll be absent for good reason.

Matthew NeSmith will be playing on the PGA Tour instead, competing at the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. He earned that start by winning the AJGA’s FootJoy Invitational, one of the junior circuit’s top events, in June at nearby Cardinal Golf & Country Club.

“My ultimate goal is to play on Tour,” said NeSmith, 18, who will be making his first PGA Tour start. “Amateurs like us, we don’t get a chance to do it very often, so you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get.”

NeSmith is No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings and AJGA’s Polo Golf Rankings. He also is 19th in the R&A’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, which is how he earned his spot in the U.S. Amateur. The top 50 players in those rankings earn spots in the 312-man Amateur field; this would’ve been NeSmith’s first U.S. Amateur. He also won this year’s AJGA Rolex Tournament of Champions, the tour’s flagship event, and the Azalea Invitational, one of the country’s top amateur events.

NeSmith will be a South Carolina freshman this season. The Gamecocks’ first event, the Carpet Capital Collegiate, is scheduled for Sept. 7-9 at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga.

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