Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Matt NeSmith is returning to the U.S. Amateur. The North Augusta native and rising junior at the University of South Carolina didn’t just advance out of his qualifying stage event, he captured medalist honors ,as well.
“It was awesome. I played some really good golf,” said NeSmith, who was happy to finish an event with his name on top of the leaderboard for the first time in almost two years.
“It gives me confidence to do well, and I got a win under my belt. ... It gets the monkey off my back,” he added.
In two rounds at the Columbia Country Club, in Blythewood, NeSmith carded a 66 followed by a 64 to finish at 12-under par.
His combined 130 was three strokes better than the 133 carded by Will Murphy, NeSmith’s teammate on the Gamecocks’ golf squad.
NeSmith opened qualifying last Monday with a bogey-free round that included five birdies, thrusting him near the top of the leaderboard. Although he carded one bogey in last Tuesday’s final round, he more than made up for it with eight birdies. That high-scoring round left the rest of the field in his wake and ensured NeSmith a berth in the U.S. Amateur, which will be played at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Georgia, from Aug. 11 through 17.
“I hit it pretty straight and didn’t get into trouble,” said NeSmith, who has qualified for the U.S. Amateur for the second year in a row. “I’m really excited. I learned a lot last year, a lot about myself. I’m going to try to apply it this year.”
In the U.S. Amateur, NeSmith will face two rounds of stroke play just to get to match play. Should he advance that far – something he wasn’t able to do last year when the U.S. Amateur was held at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts – NeSmith would be in match play. He’d be among the top 64 amateur golfers in the field, facing off in a bracket, with the championship match consisting of 36 holes.
Before he heads to Georgia, NeSmith will be busy. He’s playing in the Players Am in Hilton Head, followed by a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Southern Am. He’ll shoot up to Buffalo for the Porter Cup before heading out to Chicago for the Western Am.
Now he can add the U.S. Am to his playing card. Should he win that tournament, he’ll get to add another prestigious event to his schedule – the winner of the U.S. Amateur will get a spot in the 2015 Masters Tournament.