Tournament to have international flavor

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GRANITEVILLE --- All eyes were on Augusta as South Africa's Charl Schwartzel won the Masters Tournament with birdies on his final four holes.

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Workers prepared the large Electrolux tent at Sage Valley Golf Club on Friday. The course will play host to some of the world's best junior golfers in the inaugural Junior Invitational. 
  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Workers prepared the large Electrolux tent at Sage Valley Golf Club on Friday. The course will play host to some of the world's best junior golfers in the inaugural Junior Invitational.

Now, the world of junior golf will descend on the area for the inaugural Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.

Chances are good that the winner could also come from outside the United States.

The field of 54 golfers includes 17 players from 14 foreign countries, including South Africa. The U.S. contingent of 37 players from 21 states, including seven from California.

"That is an impressive field. Our goal was to have 15 foreign players," said Paul Simon, tournament director. "I think that's good for the first year."

Some players will get their first look at the Tom Fazio-designed layout today. Competitor-amateur events will be held today and Tuesday, and the 54-hole tournament gets under way Wednesday and concludes Friday.

The winner will receive an exemption into the Nationwide Tour event in Maryland in June. Also, the tournament will be televised by CBS on May 22.

"I think that will give exposure to the kids on a worldwide basis," Sage Valley owner Weldon Wyatt said. "It's amazing where some of these kids are coming from."

Georgia and South Carolina are well represented with seven players, including North Augusta's Matthew NeSmith. He will be joined by Cody Proveaux, of Leesville, S.C.; Stephen Behr, of Florence, S.C.; Taylor Zoller, of Charleston, S.C.; Scott Wolfes, of St. Simons Island, Ga.; Billy Kennerly, of Alpharetta, Ga.; and Charlie Martin, of LaGrange, Ga.

The goal is to raise funds for the First Tee and expose the players to a great experience.

"We're hoping what we can do with these kids is give them a memory that lasts a lifetime," Wyatt said.

Junior golfer of the day

NAME: Matthew NeSmith

FROM: North Augusta

CAREER: Won 2011 Verizon Junior Heritage, 2010 George Holiday Jr. Golf Tournament, 2010 Robert Trent Jones Junior Championship

COLLEGE CHOICE: Committed to play at the University of South Carolina


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