The E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship returns for its fifth year today.
The tournament, which began as the Club Car Junior hosted by Charles Howell III before morphing into the Charles Howell III Championship, took the name of the Evans golfer last year. Taylor welcomed the
young golfers Monday at Jones Creek Golf Club.
The three-day, 54-hole American Junior Golf Association tournament, presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf, runs through Thursday. The 96-player field features 72 boys and 24 girls.
While 10 of the top players from the East, including No. 1-ranked Matt NeSmith, of North Augusta; No. 14 Cody Proveaux, of Leesville, S.C.; and No. 30 Greyson Sigg, of Augusta, are playing in the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup at Bay Hill, the Vaughn Taylor Invitational has one of the hottest players in junior golf in Andy Zhang.
The 14-year-old Chinese golfer, who resides at the Leadbetter Academy in Reunion, Fla., owns four top-20 finishes in AJGA events since April. He became the youngest competitor in U.S. Open history at this year’s event at Olympic Club – he shot 79-77 and missed the cut.
Another player to watch is Corey Carlson, the highest-ranked golfer in the field at No. 81. Carlson, of Green Cove Springs, Fla., tied for second in this event last year.
In 2011, Austin Padova, of Hudson, Fla., posted rounds of 69-71-73 for a four-shot win in the boys division. Jessica Hoang, of North Augusta, shot 73-73-73 for a three-shot victory in the girls division.
Hoang will have some stiff competition from her neck of the woods. North Augusta’s McKenzie Talbert, who along with Hoang has committed to play at Clemson, is ranked No. 106 in the AJGA. Simin Feng, of Orlando, is the highest-ranked player in the girls division at No. 45.
Several local players are entered in the boys division, includes Alex Handy, of Aiken; David Hemann, of Evans; Emmanuel Kountakis, of Augusta; Carter Mobley, of Waynesboro; Franklin Perhonish, of Evans, and Kevin Steinmeyer, of Evans. Kountakis posted the best finish by a local boys player last year, with a tie for 11th place.