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Gainesville's Lawson King cards 5-under 31 to grab lead at Hall County Championships

GHS boys, girls lead heading into Day 2

POSTED: March 10, 2014 10:54 p.m.

Gainesville’s Lawson King knows his Hall County Championship lead isn’t safe, even after a brilliant first day.

King shot a 5-under 31 to lead the boys standings after Day 1 of the annual tournament at Royal Lakes Country Club, leading the Red Elephants to a commanding 11-under par 133 on the front nine Monday.

Undoubtedly a highlight round for the 2013 Class AAAAA individual state runner-up, but hardly a comfortable lead.

Teammates Spencer Ralston and Nathan Williams each carded a 3-under 33, and Jackson Bishop added an even-par 36 to give Gainesville sole ownership of the top four scores on the boys leaderboard.

“I think anyone can win on our team,” King said. “I’ve just been playing well lately, and we’ve been practicing hard. It’s all paying off right now.”

Windy playing conditions didn’t do much to derail King’s game, especially in the early stages of Monday’s action. He eagled the first and third holes, then closed out his day with back-to-back birdies on No. 7 and No. 8.

After a bogey on No. 9, King called Gainesville coach Bryson Worley to share his feat. And for a ride back to the clubhouse.

“Spencer and Nathan were upset because they were going at each other,” Worley said. “(King) has been playing really well lately. That’s a good start for him, and a good start for all of them.”

So good, the Red Elephants might end up breaking a team record they set just two days ago at the Apple Mountain Invitational. After matching the all-time best mark of 289 on numerous different occasions the past three seasons, including the opening tournament of 2014, they shattered the record with an 18-under 270 Saturday.

Gainesville has plenty of chances to shoot within range of Monday’s scorecards once again today, when winds leave the forecast in time for a tougher Royal Lakes back nine.

“I think the back is a little more tricky,” Ralston said. “It has a couple of different holes. The front is a little more straightforward – the back has a couple more holes that are a little tougher.”

Gainesville’s No. 5 golfer, Brady Holcomb, carded a 39, tying Flowery Branch’s Alden Jackson and North Hall’s Clay Hoffman for a share of fifth place.

Flowery Branch was the closest team to challenging Gainesville with a 171, still 38 strokes off the Red Elephants’ lead.

“It’s a good start,” Worley said. “We’ve given them a green light to be a little bit more aggressive. They’ve earned the right to play their own game, so we’ve kind of taken the reins off of them.”

Worley still has no clue which golfer will end up with the trophy after 18 holes today. Ralston is the current defending champion after shooting a 72 to win the county title as a freshman in 2013.

But that’s become the norm for the coach of the two-time defending state championship team.

“I’m going to enjoy watching it (today),” Worley said. “We watch it every day. They’ve been going at it since they were 10 years old, all of them.”

Gainesville also took an early lead in the girls tournament, shooting an 81 on the back nine.
Meg Callahan carded a 40 to earn low medalist for the first day, carrying a one-stroke lead over teammate Madeline Harr. Morgan Reece rounded out the Lady Red Elephants’ score with a fourth-place 44.

West Hall’s Olivia Davis anchored the Lady Spartans’ second-place 99, shooting a 43 to break up a potential four-golfer sweep of the girls leaderboard by Gainesville.

North Hall’s Haley Twiggs and Gainesville’s Ashleigh Bishop currently sit fifth overall after each carding a 48 on the first day.


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