By Chris Richards, AJGA Communications
The headlines will read the same: Matthew NeSmith won the FJ Invitational, thus earning him a spot in the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship. Beyond the scorecard, the news reads like this:
Five years, five exemptions
The FJ Invitational champion has represented the AJGA at the Wyndham Championship each year since 2008. During that four-year span, Cameron Peck (2008), Justin Thomas (2009), Tanner Kesterson (2010) and Billy Kennerly (2011) have compiled a 70.78 scoring average at the TOUR’s regular-season finale.
A world-class golfer and a Class A pitcher
As the third-round leader, NeSmith had the opportunity to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Thursday night’s Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball game. When asked which was more nervous on the golf course or the diamond: “Definitely the diamond. I haven’t thrown a baseball in five years; I hit a golf ball every day of my life.”
‘Yeung’ competitor, old friend
To say the NeSmith-Yeung dual was a battle between friends would be an understatement. The two high school seniors have played with each other on several occasions, including as teammates at the 2011 Wyndham Cup and as foes at the 2011 Polo Golf Junior Classic. “It’s hard because I like him so much and we’re really good friends, and you want to talk and joke but it’s intense,” said NeSmith, who beat Yeung, 3 and 2, in the first round at Polo Golf Junior Classic. “You want to win and you know he wants to beat you, and I want to beat him. It’s definitely tough and not a position I’d want to be in, but I’ll take it.”