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Gainesville holds slim lead at Hall County championships
North Hall only one shot back
Gainesville High’s Madeline Harr watches her drive from the Royal Lakes golf course 10th tee Monday afternoon during day one of the Hall County Championships.

Hall County championships
Team totals

Gainesville 153
North Hall 154
Riverside 162
Johnson 167
Flowery Branch 170
West Hall 197


West Hall 94
Gainesville 94
Johnson 105
North Hall 113
Chestatee 128
Flowery Branch 137

FLOWERY BRANCH — Even though the Gainesville boys went to the clubhouse with a lead after nine holes in the Hall County championships on Monday, freshman Grant Lasseter knows that there is still no room for error with nine holes left to play before a champion is crowned tonight at the Royal Lakes Golf & Country Club.

The top four scores for the Elephants combined for an opening round team score of 153, which is only one shot ahead of North Hall (154).

“It’s going to be extremely close (today),” said Lasseter, who shot 38 on Monday. “We’re going to play our best and we know North Hall is going to do its best.

“Best of luck to both teams.”

Meanwhile, the competition is even closer on the girls side as Gainesville and West Hall are deadlocked at 94. Gainesville’s LeeAnn Noble shot the lowest round of the day with a 43, along with Madeline Harr’s 51 for a team-total 94. Malorie Smith (46) and Natalie Mathias (48) were the two lowest for the Lady Spartans.

The reason for the lead for Gainesville’s boys is due in large part to the first-round 38s by Lasseter and Jackson Bishop, also a freshman. After shooting 4-over par on his first four holes, Lasseter closed with a pair of birdies on two of his final three holes (No. 3 and 5). His best shot of the day was a 35-foot putt for birdie on No. 5, his final hole of the day.

Meanwhile, Bishop added a birdie with his six-iron shot from the fairway that came to rest only 5 feet from the hole, followed by a tap-in.

Still, there is a lot of golf to be played before a winner is crowned.

“The goal on the first day is to be in contention,” Gainesville coach Bryson Worley said. “They don’t hand out trophies on the first day.”

The Red Elephants’ best finisher on the day was senior Will Frankum with a 1-over par 37, one shot back of overall leader Ryan Matthews of North Hall. Frankum was disappointed with his first day, saying that he missed three very makable putts. He says that the Hall County championship will be won and lost on the green.

“I just have to go out there and drop some bombs (putts),” Frankum said.

Matthews was in front after Day 1 thanks to his play around the green. His two birdies came on downhill putts from between 10 and 20 feet of the cup. On No. 2, he muscled an 8-iron out of a fairway bunker from approximately 160 yards out to within 20 feet of the cup.

Then on No. 4, a par 3, Matthews hit his tee shot to just on the lip of the green, which he converted on for birdie.

“I just played smart today and made my putts,” Matthews said. “What I’m really hoping for is to win this as a team.”

Matthews was especially pleased with his first round after shooting an 84 during a practice round at Royal Lakes on Sunday.

Also counting toward the team’s total for North Hall were Charlie Matthews (38), Mac McCormack (40) and Andy Bracewell (40).

Gainesville’s top four was rounded out by a 40 from Pep Brown.

Worley added that concentration on a course such as Royal Lakes is the key. Too many shots can be lost with one errant shot can cost a team a chance at a title.

“A lot can still happen today,” Worley said. “You have to pay attention on every shot at this course.”

Standing in third place is Riverside Military Academy (162), eight shots back of North Hall. Sam Gentry and Kyle Wilkinson each carded a 39 for the Eagles, while Austin Klee added a 40.

The final round of golf begins at 4 p.m. today at Royal Lakes.

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