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Matt NeSmith gets an early invitation to the Junior Invitational at Sage Valley

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While he was playing in a prestigious junior event last week in Florida, Matt NeSmith received a text message from friend Chad Cox.

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Matthew NeSmith, 18, of North Augusta smiles after receiving his invitation to play in the Second Junior Invitational at Sage Valley on Thursday, December 1. NeSmith placed fourth in the inaugural Invitational this past April.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Matthew NeSmith, 18, of North Augusta smiles after receiving his invitation to play in the Second Junior Invitational at Sage Valley on Thursday, December 1. NeSmith placed fourth in the inaugural Invitational this past April.

Cox couldn’t wait to deliver the news. He will be playing in the 2012 Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club.

“Dude, the invitations are out,” Cox wrote. “I’ve got mine on my doorstep.”

“I came home,” NeSmith said, “and I was looking for mine.”

NeSmith waited a few extra days, but it was worth it. The third-ranked junior in the United States became the first player to have his invitation hand-delivered Thursday afternoon by tournament chairman Paul Simon and Russ Krueger, a subcommittee chairman.

“To have them come here and give me my invitation means the world,” NeSmith said. “No tournament, as of right now, means as much to me as Sage Valley does. I’m really looking forward to it.”

At his parents’ house in North Augusta, NeSmith received a green box with a personalized invitation for the 54-hole event, which will run April 20-22. The box also contained a listing of all the player amenities, which includes staying on site in a luxurious Sage Valley cottage. All food and beverage for the field of 54 players is provided, and the players are given a caddie for the tournament. For out-of-town participants, airfare and travel expenses are taken care of by Sage Valley.

Also in the box: a CBS broadcast of the 2011 event, a listing of the 2011 player bios and a parent information packet. NeSmith marveled over a personalized booklet with a tournament review.

“Wow, these are all my friends who came last year,” he said. “I know just about every one of these people.”

NeSmith is in the first round of 23 players invited for the second-annual event. Augusta’s Greyson Sigg, who won the Georgia Junior Championship in June, is expected to receive his invitation by hand from tournament officials next week.

NeSmith received a late invitation to the inaugural event. He won the Sea Pines Junior Heritage in February and then got in after an international player withdrew.

NeSmith carded rounds of 67-67-75 to place fourth. He finished 13 shots behind Nicholas Reach, now a freshman at the University of Georgia.

NeSmith, who will play for South Carolina next fall, won the Polo Golf Junior Classic last week, his second AJGA victory of the year. He posted rounds of 70-76 before winning five matches in a row for the title. On the heels of his victory, NeSmith came home to receive his Junior Invitational invite – by order of special delivery.

“It’s surreal,” Beth NeSmith said about her son’s invitation. “Having been with him every single step of the way, and having things happen for him, you just keep asking if that just happened.”

Players accepting invitations

• Chelso Barrett

• Connor Black

• Lorens Chan

• Yi Keun Chang

• Wyndham Clark

• Chad Cox

• Nicolas Echavarria

• Jonathan Garrick

• Shun Yat Hak

• Beau Hossler

• Austin Langdale

• Hank Lebioda

• David Lee

• Jim Liu

• A.J. McInerney

• Taylor Moore

• Matthew NeSmith

• Zachary Olsen

• Cody Proveaux

• Robby Shelton

• Greyson Sigg

• Mads Sogaard

• Motin Yeung

Note: 23 players have been invited, leaving 31 spots still to be filled


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