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McKenzie Talbert is the girls leader in the E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship

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For close to seven years, North Augusta High School’s Jessica Hoang and Strom Thurmond’s McKenzie Talbert have been friendly rivals.

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McKenzie Talbert, of Edgefield County, shot 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday, but still carries a two-stroke lead into today's final round at Jones Creek.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
McKenzie Talbert, of Edgefield County, shot 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday, but still carries a two-stroke lead into today's final round at Jones Creek.

And after their upcoming senior years, both will play for Clemson when the women’s golf program is established there in 2013-14.

Today, Hoang will be chasing Talbert in the final round of the E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship at Jones Creek Golf Club.

Talbert leads the field after rounds of 71-75–146 while Hoang is at 72-78–150, four shots back in fourth place.

“She’s a good girl and I hope we get to play together tomorrow,” said Talbert, before Hoang had finished her round Wednesday. “I look forward to be able to go at it with her.”

Hoang and Talbert are in the same foursome today, along with Carianne Wright (75-73–148) and Jessica Haigwood (75-74–149).

“She’s good competition, I’ll say that,” Hoang said of Talbert. “We’ve know each other since we were 10. I played my first tournament with her. Who’d have thought we’d be going to the same college.”

While wanting to win the tournament, which Hoang won in 2011, it also has a dual purpose for Talbert.

“I’m going to the Junior PGA in Indiana next week,” Talbert said. “So this is a little warmup for that. Hopefully this will give me a little bit of positivity to draw on.”

On the boys side, Connor Smith, of Birmingham, Ala., is five shots clear of his nearest competition, after rounds of 67-69–136.

After shooting 71 and being tied for fourth place after the first round, Greenbrier’s David Hemann fired a second-round 75 and sits 11 back.

“I’m definitely a little disappointed,” Hemann said. “I doubled the last hole, couldn’t get anything going. I’m just looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

Jones Creek is Hemann’s home golf course, but playing in this tournament is a different type of event for the rising senior.

“This is the first big tournament I’ve played,” he said.

“And with all the college coaches around, it’s a little bit nerve-wracking.”


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