ALPARETTA, Ga. (June 29, 2012) -- Matthew NeSmith of North Augusta, S.C., shot even-par 70 to hold a four-stroke lead to win the 35th annual Rolex Tournament of Champions at the Capital City Club — Crabapple Course.
Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla., prevailed on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff against Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., to take the Girls Division. Both girls finished the tournament at 3-under-par 277.
The Rolex Tournament of Champions was a 72-hole stroke play event conducted by the American Junior Golf Association at Capital City Club — Crabapple Course in Alpharetta Ga. The tournament field features 72 boys and 60 girls from 30 states, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand and Venezuela. The Boys Division played the par-70 course at 7,247 yards and the Girls Division played at 6,309 yards.
After being in a five-way tie for the lead at the close of round one, NeSmith took the outright lead in round two and held on to win the championship.
The Rolex Tournament of Champions marks NeSmith's third AJGA Invitational win of the season, having also won the Polo Golf Junior Classic and FJ Invitational.
“I always thought I under-achieved a bit. I always felt like I was pretty good and never really got to that top stature,” NeSmith said. “I worked my tail off this entire year and everything is starting to pay off and it feels really, really good.”
NeSmith played four solid rounds, all of which were either even or under par. He carded 21 birdies, 39 pars and nothing worse than a bogey.
“I played pretty well for four days but No. 15 today is when I thought I had a pretty good shot at winning this,” NeSmith said.
NeSmith will be headed to the University of South Carolina in the fall and will play on the Gamecocks men's golf team.
“I'm looking forward to college and amateur golf and hopefully a lot more W's,” NeSmith said.
In second was Brad Dalke of McKinney, Texas, with 5-under-par 275. Brandon Pierce of Covington, La., and Jordan Niebrugge of Mequon, Wis., tied for third at 4-under-par 276, and rounding out the top five were Taylor Moore of Edmond, Okla., Lee McCoy of Clarkesville, Ga., and Andy Shim of Duluth, Ga., at 3-under-par 277.
In the Girls Division, Green began the day at 5-under-par and came out of the gate swinging with early birdies on Nos. 2 and 3. She finished up the front nine at 2-under-par 34, but struggled on the back with a bogey at No. 11 and a double bogey on No. 18 that dropped her into a playoff with Karen Chung.
“I knew I was one-up on her (Chung) going into the last hole and I knew I had to keep making pars just to keep the lead,” Green said. “I made double bogey. It was tough coming down the stretch with her because she's a good player.”
Green has decided that she will turn pro at the end of the year, but is closing out her junior career with a flourish. Along with a win at the Rolex Tournament of Champions, she earned a top-three finish at the Rolex Girls Junior Championship and has a earned a spot on the 2012 Wyndham Cup East Team.
“I still can't believe I won, especially because this is my last junior event besides Wyndham Cup,” Green said. “Winning this tournament, seeing the names in the field and winning the playoff feels awesome.”
Karen Chung of Livingston, N.J., took second place after her playoff loss and Casey Danielson of Osceola, Wis., took third with a 2-under-par 278.
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