Seventeen-year-old Matthew NeSmith
recorded the biggest win of his young career
when he surprised the field at the Azalea
Invitational at the Country Club of Charleston in
Charleston, S.C. NeSmith, ranked No. 3 in the
AJGA’s Polo Golf Rankings, shot 14-under-par
270 to finish three shots ahead of Jim Liu.
NeSmith, of North Augusta, S.C., who has
committed to play his college golf at the University of South Carolina, posted three consecutive 5-under-par rounds of 66 after opening with a 1-over 72. In Saturday’s third round,
NeSmith reeled off six consecutive birdies
beginning on the third hole.
Nine golfers began the day within four shots of
the lead, including Liu, who became the young-est U.S. Junior champion in 2010. Liu, along with
third round co-leader Michael Cromie, played in
the final pairing with NeSmith but neither could
keep up with the winner’s unrelenting pace.
University of Georgia sophomore Keith Mitchell, who began the final round tied for 12th, had
the round of the day on Sunday, shooting a 6-under
65 to vault into a solo third finish at 10-under 274.
made his annual pilgrimage to Charleston for
the Azalea; he missed the 7-over par cut of 220
by four shots. Nathan Smith, the 2005 champion, finished T12 after a closing 1-over 72. Brad
Wilder, who was tied for the lead after the first
round and alone in first after 36 holes, finished
T4 with Michael Miller, five shots off the pace.
AZALEA INVITATIONAL NOTES
Defending champion Cheng-Tsung Pan was
unable to play because of college commitments.
Pan broke the tournament record in 2011 with
a 19-under par effort. As a freshman, he is a
key player for the top- 10 ranked Washington
Huskies. Pan won the second college event he
entered, the Prestige at PGA West, and is ranked
No. 12 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
MACPHERSON TAKES GEORGIA CUP