Finally, the duo gets to enjoy an event at home this week.
Barker opened with 2-over-par 74, while Fort finished one shot behind him in the first round of the AJGA’s E-Z-GO Vaughn Taylor Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf on Tuesday at Jones Creek Golf Club. S.M. Lee, of Buford, opened with 67 and leads by two over Chase Ibbotson and Jake Milanowski. In the girls event, Alissa Yang and Yunjie Zhang are tied for first at 71, while Sarah Harrison, of Martinez, is the low local player with 77.
Barker and Fort will have to rally in the final two rounds today and Thursday if they, along with Hunter Dunagan, who opened with 74, want to be the first Augusta-area golfer to win this event. Barker is a 17-year-old Greenbrier senior, while Fort is one class behind him. Dunagan is a junior at Lakeside.
“We’re all competitive with each other,” Fort said. “Everybody likes to beat everybody.”
In May, Fort knocked in a two-foot putt on the first playoff to clinch Greenbrier’s Class AAAAA state championship win over Lakeside. Dunagan almost double-dipped that day, carding 64 to win the individual portion.
In June at the Georgia Junior Championship in Brunswick, Ga., Dunagan was the low local finisher, tying for seventh place, while Barker finished one shot behind in a tie for ninth and Fort tied for 13th. With his finish, Dunagan qualified for the Georgia team for the Georgia-South Carolina Junior Challenge Match.
Earlier this month at the Press Thornton Future Masters in Dothan, Ala., Fort led the trio with a tie for 22nd. At last week’s North & South Junior Championship in Pinehurst, N.C., Barker posted a tie for 10th place, while Fort tied for 51st place.
Dunagan and Fort are members at Jones Creek, while Barker plays out of Bartram Trail. While the three have competed in several events together this summer, Fort and Barker are the closest of the three.
“Me and States have been playing tournaments together for most of our life,” Barker said. “We go to the same school. We live in the same area. We play on the same courses. And we always travel together.”
Fort shot 70 to win the Vaughn Taylor qualifier Sunday. He then made 18 consecutive pars in Monday’s pro-am. Fort didn’t play as well in the first round, starting with a bogey-double-bogey stretch before recovering. Dunagan posted two double bogeys on his first nine, while Barker was even through 17 holes until closing with a double at No. 9.