Matt NeSmith knew he had made the big time when he changed his shoes in the locker room earlier this week with reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson nearby.
NeSmith is playing today in his first PGA Tour event, the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. NeSmith, who tees off No. 10 in the first round at 2 p.m., is enjoying things like talking to Charles Howell and hitting balls next to Davis Love III.
“It’s been really cool,” NeSmith said. “I don’t have any expectations. I just want to have fun, whether I shoot 64 or 80. It’s the best opportunity I can have.”
In June, the 18-year-old North Augustan claimed an exemption into the tournament by winning the American Junior Golf Association’s FootJoy Invitational in Greensboro. Later that month, he cruised to a four-shot win in the AJGA’s Tournament of Champions. With those back-to-back titles, NeSmith ascended to No. 1 in the AJGA rankings.
NeSmith finished off his junior career in July by helping lead the East team to a win in the Ryder Cup-style Wyndham Cup at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla. NeSmith eagled the 16th hole to close out his match on the final day.
After the spectacular summer, NeSmith is ready to transition into college golf. On Monday, he will move into his new digs in Columbia, and officially become a Gamecock. By playing his way into a PGA Tour event, NeSmith earned a spot on South Carolina’s traveling team for the first fall event, the Carpet Capital Collegiate.
“I’m excited to go there and play golf and have a good relationship with (coach) Bill McDonald and the team,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll win a national championship.”
First, NeSmith has to take care of business this week. He will have a large gallery of family and friends on hand supporting him. NeSmith said
he’s putting well and if he continues doing so, he could easily make the cut. But that’s not something he’s worrying about.
“It’s just golf. I’m not playing for anything,” he said. “I’m just tickled to death I can measure my game against PGA Tour golfers.”