NeSmith adds FJ Invitational title to lengthy resume
Matthew NeSmith’s golf resume continues to shine. The 18-year-old now can add this line: AJGA FootJoy Invitational champion. A win at the prestigious junior event also earns the North Augusta, S.C., native a spot in the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship.
NeSmith’s victory at the FootJoy, played at Cardinal Golf and Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., didn’t come easy. NeSmith had to hold off Motin Yeung through every round of the 72-hole invitational. NeSmith finished at 12-under 276 while Yeung fell one shot short despite a final-round 67 to NeSmith’s 70.
Don’t think NeSmith didn’t have a close eye on his pursuer.
“I figured before I teed off today that if I could shoot even-par, I’d make him come and get me,” NeSmith said. “All of a sudden I had a one-shot lead going into 12. It was just mind-blowing honestly.”
Yeung made birdie at Nos. 7, 8, 10 and 11 to apply pressure. But after one more at No. 15, he faltered down the stretch with bogeys at Nos. 16 and 17. It left NeSmith with the Wyndham start, which is a tournament in which he’s always wanted to play.
“It was my No. 1 goal starting this entire season,” he said. “That and Rolex Junior Player of the Year. I started by winning Polo, and winning here to seal up a Tour exemption is really, really cool.”
NeSmith is ranked No. 5 in Golfweek’s Junior Rankings and was named a Rolex First-Team Junior All-American in 2011. He has signed with South Carolina for the fall.
In the past year, NeSmith also has won the Jones Cup Junior, the Polo Golf Junior Classic and the Junior Heritage. He was runner-up at the Jones Cup Junior in 2010.