Q&A with Matthew NeSmith
July 10, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Matthew NeSmith, who played collegiately at the University of South Carolina, currently stands 45th on The 25. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
It has already been a big year for Matthew NeSmith, but he’s hoping there will be another special addition to his 2019 accomplishments in a few weeks’ time: securing a PGA TOUR card.
NeSmith, who is getting married in November (after proposing at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage) and who, along with his fiancée Abigail, bought his first house in April, is 45th on The 25 with just five weeks left in the Regular Season.
The University of South Carolina alum is first on the Korn Ferry Tour in greens in regulation and has been one of the purest ball strikers on Tour all year. When his driving and short-game line up with his iron play, he’s had some solid results – including a T9 at the season-opener in the Bahamas and another top-10 in Nashville.
NeSmith is off this week for the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes before he re-focuses on his final four tournaments of the year. Before he gets back into it, NeSmith spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital chatting about how he met his fiancée, what is was like to fall in love with golf at the Masters, and the keys to his success.
How would you assess things so far this year?
It’s been good so far. It hasn’t been exactly what I wanted, but I’m glad to be in the position I am, with four weeks left, to have a chance to get my TOUR card and go into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals and get another shot there. I’m pretty happy with that, but I haven’t done what I wanted to do.
Has your comfort level improved as the year has gone on?
Everything has been good. It was nice, last year, to get a sponsor’s invite to the BMW (Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation) somewhere that was close to home and play with some familiar faces and be able to play well and push that through to the end of the year and get into (the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft-Heinz). This year I didn’t feel like I needed to find anything. I have done the work before. I had played well in the events. I had done everything I felt like I needed to do, so this year felt like an extension of last year. It was really nice to not try to find myself for the first few events. I knew what to expect and what was going on, and I went from there.
You grew up not far from Augusta, Georgia. Did you attend the Masters much?
I went every single year from the time I was eight until I was 17 or 18. When I went to school and stuff it changed a little, I’d go every couple of years but (when) I grew up it was the only thing to do. We lived so close, so spring break was always Masters week. People rented their houses out and it was a huge deal. You could watch it from start to finish, and you could do pretty much anything you wanted to except for play golf. There are so many people who come in and play. It was something I did every year as a kid. I’d watch it. I’d go to the tournaments. It’s where my love of the game started.
Do you have any key memories that stand out?
The first time I walked into the gates, about 30 steps later I met Bernhard Langer and I got to take a picture with him. That was pretty cool. I remember seeing Tiger in 2000, 2001 and I remember he was like a superhero. I remember going to the Par-3 Contest and someone made back-to-back hole-in-ones on Nos. 4 and 5, maybe in 2002. There were a lot of really cool memories. I remember going to the Masters where Tiger and Phil were playing together, probably an hour and a half before the final group. Tiger hit this big drawing 3-wood to about 10 feet on No. 8 and he was 4-under on the day. We got up to the grandstand on eight and he did the fist pump rolling the putt in. It was awesome.
A Tiger Woods roar at Augusta National must have been something special?
And on Sunday. It was so cool. There were some great stories and great history around that place. It’s a golf mecca. It’s where my love of the game started and continued to grow from there.
Have you played the course yet?
I played it once, yup. It’s hard to fathom. TV doesn’t do it justice. People are like, ‘Eh, it looks pretty good,’ and then they go there and they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, this place is incredible.’
Tell me a little about your fiancée?
We’re getting married on November 1. A couple months left. I went to (the University of) South Carolina to play golf, and she went to South Carolina to be on the equestrian team. We lived probably four doors down our freshman year of college. She used to come and eat breakfast with my roommate on Fridays, because they were the only two people who had class on Friday, because they were just idiots (laughs). Who wants Friday class?
Yeah, exactly. One day they were having breakfast and I was sitting on the couch, hanging out watching golf. We hit it off from there. It was nice to be around somebody who knows the lay of the land on what it takes to be really good and how much time and effort it takes to put towards your craft if you want to get good at it. It was perfect. It was really cool to be around someone who knew the struggles I was going through and who was supportive of … if I had to go on a Saturday morning to practice or if I had to leave for two weeks to play golf, there is no pushback from home life.
Where is home these days?
We just bought our first house in April, right before Masters week. Masters week was the first time we were in our house together … in Aiken, South Carolina.
A big year, then?
Yeah, 2019 – I’m getting married, bought a house … hopefully get a PGA TOUR card in a few weeks.
You have played a few PGA TOUR events, but you also qualified for the U.S. Open in 2015 before turning professional. How was that experience?
It was amazing. I was playing some really good golf, but it wasn’t like I was expecting to get in. I just went out and played golf but everything fell into place. It was awesome. I made every putt. I shot 17-under (at the qualifier). That’ll get it done. Going out there was an incredible experience. I got to play with some awesome people in the practice rounds – I played with Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland – who’s now a U.S. Open champion. I got to play with a bunch of really, really cool people. I learned a lot. It was a taste of golf at the highest level.
And you were still in college. That must have been quite the learning experience?
I was going into my senior year. It was awesome – I got to pick the brains of some of the best golfers in the world and be around them, seeing how they go about their week and just observe how they take care of business.