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Lloyd tied for lead atop national junior golf field
West Hall student Will England putts from the fringe on the 14th hole during the first round of the American Junior Golf Association Tournament at Chateau Elan in Braselton on Sunday afternoon. - photo by COREY WILSON | Times regional staff
BRASELTON — Jimmy Lloyd was all smiles as he exited the 18th green Sunday.

Lloyd, one of the 96 competitors from across the country in the Medicus Preseason Junior event at the Chateau Elan Golf Club, finished the opening round with an even par 71, putting him in a first-place tie with Matthew Cahill from Boca Raton, Fla. In the girls division, Kendall Wright of Suwanee put together a 4-under par 67 to grab the early lead.

"I am pretty pleased with the way I played today," Lloyd said with a smile. "I really had the mindset to compete against the course and not compete against the other golfers out here.

"I just hope I come out here tomorrow and put together an even better round."

Lloyd, who acknowledged playing shaky early, credits the fourth hole as the turnaround point in his performance.

Sitting at 2-over par, Lloyd smacked a drive more than 275 yards down the center of the fairway, leaving him about 155 yards away from the hole. Using his six iron, Lloyd placed his shot on the green about 20 feet from the pin. He then birdied his putt, leaving him one-over par.

"The fourth hole really changed my game around," said Lloyd, a rising junior at North Hall High School. "It gave me a ton of confidence, and I really started playing better."

The annual tournament, sponsored by American Junior Golf Association, features nearly 100 of the nation’s most elite golfers between the ages of 12-18. It’s part of an eight-event preseason series that concludes with a tournament at the Mountain View Course at Callaway Gardens June 2-4 in Pine Mountain.

"It’s a great opportunity for (the AJGA) because it gives local kids the opportunity to play close to home and showcase their abilities," AJGA spokesman Chris Richards said. "Our national headquarters is also real close to here, so that’s real convenient for us as well. It’s just a great opportunity for these kids to play against other golfers from all over the United States."

Other local golfers competing in the event included West Hall’s Will England and Mill Creek’s Shawn Yim, who both carded 7-over 78s.

"The course was in perfect shape," Yim said. "But my game wasn’t. There are some awesome golfers out here. I started out the day pretty good, but I just didn’t hit the ball well off the tee as the day went on. My putting and short game was pretty solid, but I have a ton to work on before the final round tomorrow."

Final-round tee times will begin at 8 a.m. today with the tournament’s low medalist receiving a two-tournament exemption. The top 10 finishers in the boys division will receive a one-tournament exemption, while the top three finishers in the girls division will each receive a one-tournament exemption.