North Augusta players take top honors at Sea Pines Junior Heritage

February 6, 2011, Hilton Head Island, SC – All eyes may be on the Super Bowl but not in the small South Carolina town of North Augusta. Two of their own,  Matthew NeSmith and McKenzie Talbert, took on the best junior golfers country and won the boys and girls titles respectfully at the Sea Pines Junior Heritage. The two-day event was held February 5-6th at the picturesque Ocean Course and the Famed Harbour Town Golf Links in The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island South Carolina.

NeSmith, a high school junior, started the day with share of the lead. He knew the field was world class but wasn’t really nervous. What nerves he did feel he described as a “good nervous.”  And although he lost the lead to an opening hole birdie by first round co-leader  Trey Valentine, NeSmith said he was most worried about “Stephen (Behr) making a run.” An event he explained he had become accustom to.

That never happened and Matthew gained possession of the lead on the third hole and never looked back. He explained that everyone needs to learn how to play for themselves and he did last fall. He approaches every round like one at home with friends. “I focus on playing golf and making shots.  I am not competitive like Tiger Woods… but I have found my game.”

NeSmith’s even par 71 was good enough for a four-under-par finish and a three stroke margin of victory.

Finishing in second place was Valentine.  Although it was not a win, the Melbourne, FL player’s 74 today and one-under par finish was respectful for the challenging Harbour Town Golf Links.

Finishing out the top 5 where: Stephen Behr at even-par 143, James Yoon 144 and defending champion Jim Liu at 145.

On the girl’s side of the event, Talbert found herself in a similar position to last year. Like 2010, the high school sophomore started the final round two strokes back.   Fortunately, she finished this year’s run at Harbour Town  four strokes better with a three-over-par 74 and three over for the tournament.

McKenzie made the turn to her back nine, still two strokes back. She credits birdies on the final two par threes for the victory but real the key was her approach shot into the final hole.

Talbert was sitting about 100 yards out with the wind at her back. Her normal wedge for this shot was not in the bag – taken out to make room for it on the long golf course. Sierra Sims was tight and just a stroke back. Talbert, with wrong club and coming off a bogie, played the shot of her career. She staked it and went on to make par and claim the girl’s title.

Sierra Sims of Austin, TX was not able to make the putt on final hole to force a playoff but she did pick up a share of runner-up and her second top five finish in the tournament. Sims shares the runner-up finish with Annie Park of Elmhurst, NY.

First round leader Monifa Sealy did not have a good day on the course. The Trinidad and Tobago player could not find her way around the tree lined course and post a ten-over-par 81 and alone in fourth place.

Detailed scoring for the entire tournament and the final results can be found on the website of The Junior Heritage at juniorheritage.com