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Aug. 17, 2015

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – South Carolina senior Matt NeSmith kicked off his third-straight U.S. Amateur appearance in strong fashion on Monday as he finished the day at the top of the leaderboard after firing an opening-round 65 (-5) at Olympia Fields Country Club’s South Course.

NeSmith holds a one-shot advantage over a group of four golfers in a tie for second at 4-under with 18 holes of stroke play remaining. Gamecock senior Sean Kelly also played the South Course on Monday and carded a 72 (+2) to wrap up the round in a tie for 78th. At the conclusion of Tuesday’s round of stroke play, a medalist will be crowned and the low 64 scorers will advance to match play, which begins Wednesday.

A native of North Augusta, S.C., NeSmith began his round on the back nine and made birdies on holes 11 and 13. After three-straight pars, he carded back-to-back birdies on holes 17 and 18 to make the turn in 4-under. He got to as low as 6-under on the day after birdies on the third and fifth holes, but his only blemish of the round, a bogey on the par-4 ninth, dropped him back to 5-under heading into the clubhouse.

NeSmith will tee off hole No. 1 of the North Course in the second round on Tuesday at 2:10 p.m. ET, while Kelly will begin his round at 8:10 a.m. off the North Course’s 10th tee. Live scoring will be available at

Quotable (courtesy of USGA)
Matt NeSmith on getting off to a quick start

“Yeah, I got off to a good start, birdied 11. It was a birdie pin and I hit a good tee shot, so it was kind of — I kind of expected that after being in the middle of the fairway. And then hit it really close on 13, which helped out, too, and got on a little bit of a run because lately I haven’t been able to — well, I’ve been a couple over par through the first couple holes and just haven’t been able to get anything going early to shoot some good rounds.”

On making match play being the goal
“Yeah, that’s the only goal. Once you get to match play anything can happen. The only goal is to make it there and see if you can put yourself in a good position to make it a good way in the tournament.”

On his strategy for the final round of stroke play
“I don’t think I’m going to do anything different. I’m going to play the same, my game plan from day one. I might take a few less chances, but other than that, I’m just going to play the same way I did today and hopefully get the same result.”