NeSmith captures win at FJ Invitational
Eighteen-year-old earns sponsor's exemption into the Wyndham Championship
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Matthew NeSmith of North Augusta, S.C., carded an even-par 70 and a tournament total of 4-under-par 276 to win the FJ Invitational, earning a sponsor's exemption into the PGA TOUR's Wyndham Championship. Motin Yeung of Orlando, Fla., shot a final-round 67 and finished one shot behind in second with a tournament total of 3-under-par 277.
Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the FJ Invitational was a 72-hole stroke play competition played on the par-70, 6,909-yard Cardinal Golf & Country Club. The 84-player field featured boys from 21 states and 9 foreign countries. For the fifth consecutive year, the winner of the FJ Invitational will receive a sponsor's exemption into the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship in August. Following the third round the field was cut to the top-50 and ties.
NeSmith and Yeung fought for the top of the leaderboard through all four rounds. In the final round, NeSmith came off the front nine with the advantage over Yeung, carding three birdies for 2-under-par 33 and a four-stroke lead. Yeung rallied at the turn, recording birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to cut his deficit to one with seven holes remaining.
“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 birdied No. 15 to match NeSmith's score heading to the final holes. Both players felt the pressure on No. 18 with a chance to play in the Wyndham Championship on the line. NeSmith left the door open for Yeung to force a playoff as he parred, missing a birdie putt from 10 feet.
“You want to win and you know he wants to beat you, and I want to beat him,” NeSmith said. “It's definitely tough and not a position I'd want to be in, but I'll take it.”
Yeung missed the green with his approach and failed to save par, finishing the tournament at 3-under-par and one shot shy. This sealed NeSmith as the winner and he will return to Greensboro, N.C., in August to play in the Wyndham Championship.
“I can't wait. It was my No. 1 goal starting this entire season,” NeSmith said. “That's all I've ever wanted to do since I was a little kid, play in a TOUR event.”
Michael Pisciotta of Alpharetta, Ga., Dylan Wu of Medford, Ore., and Sam Burns of Shreveport, La., placed in third at 3-over-par 283.
For more information about the FJ Invitational, please contact Chris Richards at 678-644-4258.
About the AJGA
The American Junior Golf Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the overall growth and development of young men and women who aspire to earn college golf scholarships through competitive junior golf. The AJGA provides valuable exposure for college golf scholarships, and has an annual junior membership (boys and girls ages 12-18) of approximately 5,500 junior golfers from 49 states and more than 40 countries. To ensure scholarship opportunities for all junior golfers who have the skill, the AJGA created the Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) Grant program to provide financial assistance to young players in need.
Titleist, the AJGA's National Sponsor, has been the catalyst and driving force behind the Association's success since 1989. Rolex, which is in its third decade of AJGA support, became the inaugural AJGA Premier Partner in 2004. In 2007, after 12 years of support, Ralph Lauren became the AJGA's second Premier Partner.
AJGA alumni have risen to the top of amateur, collegiate and professional golf. Former AJGA juniors have compiled more than 500 victories on the PGA and LPGA Tours. AJGA alumni include Stewart Cink, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park and Morgan Pressel.