Defending champ leads E-Z Go Vaughn Taylor Championship

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Tuesday July 30, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Defending champion Connor Smith of Shoal Creek, Ala., carded nine birdies during the first round of the E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf. In the Girls Division, Dylan Kim of Winter Garden, Fla., and Khushboo Thiagaraj of Haymarket, Va., sit atop the leaderboard with 2-over-par 74s heading into the second round.

Conducted by the American Junior Golf Association, the E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf is a 54-hole stroke play competition being played on the par-72 course at Jones Creek Golf Club. The event features 63 boys and 21 girls, ages 12-18, from 12 states, three countries. The Boys Division played the course at 6,799 yards, while the Girls Division played the course at 6,046 yards.

Not only does Smith hold the lead going into the second round, but his 8-under-par 64 also tied the course record.

From his own designated parking spot to the friendly volunteers, the defending champion complimented all aspects of this week’s tournament.

“This course is one that fits my golf game perfectly. You can’t spare to miss fairways at this course, and if you can get on the green in regulation you can make putts,” Smith said. “I also always play better around this time, it’s the peak of the summer, when I know what my weaknesses are and when I work the hardest.”

In second place Jack Comstock of Jacksonville, Fla., carded a 4-under-par 68. In a three-way tie for third with 2-under-par 70s are S.M. Lee of Buford, Ga., Tyler Bakich of Valrico, Fla., and John Yi of Marietta, Ga.

Thiagaraj thoughts about the Jones Creek Golf Club don’t match her first impression after her practice round. Thiagaraj’s back-to-back birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 were due to her ability to hit approach shots to one foot away.

“We’re playing on a very narrow course and you have to think ahead about where you want to place the ball,” Thiagaraj said.

Kim mentioned that her first AJGA win six weeks ago has given her a great amount of confidence and a boost to her performance.

She also seemed to have similar feelings as Thiagaraj about the course.

“One thing I noticed was that I wouldn’t need my driver too often this week. It’s a course where if you hit too long at your tee shot you’ll reach trouble,” Kim said. “I putted and drove the ball really well. I’m excited for tomorrow’s round because there’s a lot more golf left out there.”