NeSmith swings into sharing honors with top golf pros

In mid-October, the North Augusta High School grad was first named an American Junior Golf Association Rolex All-American and then the AJGA Rolex Player of the Year. Now a freshman at the University of South Carolina, NeSmith joins the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan - Nos. 2, 17 and 20 in the most recent World Golf Rankings - as winners of the award, which honors one male and one female each year for play in AJGA sanctioned events.

"It feels really, really good," NeSmith said. "It's going to be cool to see my name on a trophy that has Tiger and Hunter on it."

NeSmith has seen his name on a lot of trophies as of late. He won three tournaments that factor into the Polo Golf Rankings, in which he held the top spot for the final nine weeks of his time as a junior. The first of those was the Polo Junior Golf Classic in November of last year, a tournament that involves two stroke-play rounds and five rounds of match play. He also won the FJ Invitational - which earned him a spot in the PGA Tour's Wyndham Championship - and the Rolex Tournament of Champions.

In addition, he competed for the victorious East squad in the Wyndham Cup and won the Azalea Invitational, an event that doesn't factor into the Polo rankings.

NeSmith said that he got the feeling earlier this year that he was headed for a special finish to his junior career.

"It kind of sunk in, I guess, around the middle of the year, after I won Polo," he said. "It's cool to be a member of that club."

His female counterpart is Ariya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand. She won the Rolex prize for the second straight year.