Former Gamecock All-American Matt NeSmith is headed to the PGA TOUR after winning the Albertsons Boise Open on Sunday in the second leg of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. NeSmith sunk a 15-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole to seal the victory by a shot over Oklahoma State All-American Viktor Hovland and Brandon Hagy.
“It’s a huge dream,” said NeSmith. “I’ve been hanging around on mini-tours for a couple of years, and I played in Canada until finally getting out here to the Korn Ferry Tour. I played solid all year long, but I started playing really well towards the end of the year, go into the Finals and then anything can happen.”
The North Augusta, S.C., native, began the day T-7th, three strokes back of Hovland. NeSmith played lights out with his third-straight round in the 60s firing a 7-under 64. He finished the tournament with a 72-hole total of 265 (-19).
With one more event to go next week, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship at Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Ind., NeSmith moves into the top spot on The Finals 25 leaderboard. If he remains there, the former South Carolina standout will receive fully exempt PGA TOUR status in 2019-20. For a full breakdown of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals list of qualifiers, click here.
NeSmith will join fellow Gamecock Mark Anderson on the PGA TOUR next season. Anderson got his card on after finishing 14th on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List.
Twelve months ago, NeSmith was finishing his second season on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada having missed the cut in seven out of 10 starts. He earned status on the Korn Ferry Tour by finishing T-22nd at Q-School back in December, and he improved his status through the reshuffle by finishing T-9th in the season-opening Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay in January. In his rookie year on the Korn Ferry Tour, NeSmith had three top-10s in the regular season to finish 46th on the points list.
NeSmith finished his career at Carolina as one of the most decorated golfers ever in program history. He holds program records for career scoring average (71.65), top-five finishes (14) and top-10s (25). NeSmith also owns the 54-hole tournament record, shooting a 196 en route to medalist honors at the 2015 SEC Championship. He was the first Gamecock in program history to earn PING First Team All-America honors as a senior in 2015-16, helping Carolina to its first NCAA Match Play berth and its best finish ever at the NCAA Championship (T-5th). He was also the 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year, a three-time All-SEC selection (first team in 2015 and 2016) and a two-time GCAA All-American Scholar.
COURTESY USC ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT