Former Gamecock golfer reflects on third PGA season

28 days ago
South Carolina Athletics

Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Matt Nesmith (2012-2016) may be somewhat of a veteran on the PGA Tour, but as the former South Carolina golfer just finished his third full year on the Tour, he’s still excited to improve his game.

“It’s always about trying to be better,” said Nesmith, who was South Carolina’s first Ping First Team All-American as a senior in 2016. “Everyone is getting better. You have to figure out ways to do it without messing up others. Taking parts of your game and things off your game that you already do well. I’ve always tried my ironies.” but I’ve struggled with the driver the first two years, so I’m trying to figure out how to marry people together where you don’t lose one and get better at the other. Learning the balance between just getting better and putting the mindset together is a big part of it.”

The North Augusta, SC, native currently resides in Aiken, and recently came back to Columbia to play in South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer’s “Birdies with Beamer” golf tournament. While he enjoys being close to Augusta National, there are other places on the tour that excite him.

“I love Pebble Beach,” Nesmith said. “It’s amazing. My wife loves it. We go there and it’s a place we’ve enjoyed the most.”

Currently ranked 77th in the FedEx Cup rankings, NeSmith clearly enjoys playing the game he loves to survive, but there is always pressure among the elite who remain on the PGA Tour. Huh.

“It’s an extreme grind,” Nesmith said. “My first few years on the Tour, I saw it as more pressure. I was a little more nervous about it. I’m three years out now and going into my fourth. I know I’m good enough I’m there to play. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

NeSmith earned a pair of top five finishes this year and finished twelfth at RBC Heritage. He finished T-37th at the US Open after being in contention after 36 holes. It was the best end of his career in a major.

While some PGA pros have recently opted to play for the new LIV Tour, Nesmith said he is not interested in such a change and is grateful for where he is.

“I’m not interested in going there,” Nesmith said. “I’m solid with the PGA Tour. I love the opportunity they offer to be able to play on a tour that’s established and very well connected. We have great tournaments going around the world. It’s always what I’ve dreamed of doing, so I’m happy to be there.”

Although professional golf is very different from the team environment that is college golf, Nesmith is pleased that he moved to South Carolina where he continues to enjoy a great relationship with Gamecock coach Bill McDonald.

“I absolutely loved it in South Carolina,” Nesmith said. “Billy Mack is still a good friend of mine. He was an amazing coach when I was here. It really meant a lot. We went to a lot of places that were different from what we see anywhere else. I always thought That golf around Columbia actually prepared me for college golf, while preparing me for professional golf where I am now. I bet I talk with Billy Mack once every two weeks . We still talk well. I really enjoy being connected and watching the team whenever the opportunity comes.”

NeSmith kicked off the PGA Tour regular season in Greensboro, NC this week, and she won’t have much time before next season begins.

“We go into the FedEx Cup playoffs for three weeks, and then two weeks off and we start the new season,” Nesmith said. “There’s really no off-season.”

He wouldn’t have it any other way.

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