NeSmith named Rolex Junior Player of the Year

Matthew NeSmith of North Augusta, S.C., was named the boys’ Rolex Junior Player of the Year, the American Junior Golf Association announced Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Introduced by the AJGA in 1978, the Rolex Junior Player of the Year award recognizes one boy and one girl who had the most outstanding year in junior golf events at the national level. Past recipients have gone on to become some of the most esteemed players on the PGA and LPGA Tours, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III, Hunter Mahan, Scott Verplank, Cristie Kerr, Inbee Park, Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel.

NeSmith, 19, is the second South Carolina native to be named Rolex Junior Player of the Year, one year after Cody Proveaux became the first. He won four of the five individual junior tournaments he played in and spent the final nine weeks of his junior career ranked No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings.

His accomplishments during the past season will be heralded Nov. 18 during the Rolex Junior All-America Awards Banquet at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The awards ceremony, dubbed “The Greatest Night in Junior Golf,” will also trumpet the achievements of the rest of golf’s next generation by means of the Rolex Junior All-America Teams, HP Scholastic Junior All-America Teams and Jerry Cole Sportsmanship Award.

About Matthew NeSmith’s 2012 season
NeSmith, 19, won four junior tournaments, three of which were AJGA Invitationals, and spent the final nine weeks of his junior career atop the Polo Golf Rankings. In all, he won four of the five individual junior tournaments he played in, with each victory adding momentum toward the crowning achievement of his junior career.

As the No. 23 seed after stroke play at the Polo Golf Junior Classic in November 2011, NeSmith defeated Rolex Junior All-Americans in each of his five matches en route to his first Invitational win. A month later, he won the Jones Cup Junior Invitational, and with the victory came an invitation to the 2012 Jones Cup Invitational. In June, he earned a sponsor’s exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship after he was victorious at the FJ Invitational.

A win at the AJGA’s flagship event, the Rolex Tournament of Champions, proved to be a landmark achievement in his final AJGA stroke play event. The victory not only propelled him to No. 1 in the Polo Golf Rankings, but he also became the first boy to win the AJGA’s two oldest events (Rolex Tournament of Champions and the Polo Golf Junior Classic) in the same season.

He closed his junior career at Wyndham Cup, where he posted a 2-2-0 match play record and helped the East Team retain the Cup for the second straight year. In two appearances, NeSmith compiled a 6-2-0 record at the AJGA’s team match play event.

He is currently a freshman at the University of South Carolina and has played in each of the Gamecocks’ first three tournaments.

Matthew NeSmith – 2012 season results

Junior tournaments (ranked in Polo Golf Rankings)


1st*Polo Golf Junior Classic70-76–146 (stroke play score); won five matches for title
1stJones Cup Junior Invitational (2011)69-69-70–208
T32*HP Boys Championship at Carlton Woods72-79-76–227
1st*FJ Invitational
1st*Rolex Tournament of Champions68-67-66-70–271
 *Wyndham Cup2-2-0  record (6-2-0 career)
Other tournaments (not factored into Rolex Junior Player of the Year considerations)
T71Jones Cup Invitational85-75-78–238
1stAzalea Invitational72-66-66-66–270
5thTerra Cotta Invitational71-73-71–215
4thJunior Invitational73-69-70–212
T7Palmetto Amateur70-76-64-74–284
T23Northeast Amateur68-69-69-72–278
T4Players Amateur70-73-71–214
T37Porter Cup69-66-69-78–282
MC^Wyndham Championship70-71–141

* Denotes AJGA event