Taylor, who won the VHSL Region 2D championship on the same Lonesome Pine Country Club course last season as member of the Gate City golf team, shot a 2-under 69 Saturday to pace the field on day one of the two-day, 36-hole tournament.
“It could have been a lot better than it was. I had two three-putts and I missed several putts I should have made. I just played the par 5s even. So it could have been a lot better than it was, but I’ll take 69,” Taylor, who announced last year that he will play collegiate golf at Tennessee Tech, said.
Taylor said playing at LPCC during his high school playing days helped him with familiarity of the course.
“The last time I was out here I shot 61 in the region tournament, and this is the first time I’ve played it since. I was trying to bag it up and shoot low again, but I didn’t hardly have the same day I had then,” said Taylor.
Taylor leads nine-time champion and two-time defending senior champion Bill Sergent III and tournament newcomer and former pro and Virginia Tech golfer Garland Green, of Tazewell, by two strokes.
Both Sergent and Green finished even 71 for the day.
The 63-year-old Sergent, a native of Big Stone Gap who lives in London, Ky., is golf coach at Union College.
He won the seniors championship last year and the year before. This year he entered the championship flight in pursuit of his 10th Invitational championship.
“For 63-years-old I feel pretty good,” Sergent said with a smile. “Yes, it’s good if you can hit it long and straight. But most people don’t hit it long and straight. And that’s the thing. It gives me a chance to compete here.”
FIRST TIME AROUND
Green, who was a pro on the eGolf Professional Tour for three and a half years after playing collegiately at Virginia Tech, is a member of Tazewell County Country Club.
Saturday’s opening round of the tournament was his first time on the course at LPCC.
“It’s a fun golf course. You just have to know where to put it. I had some short-game woes, but I was able to make some birdies coming in to get back to even,” said Green.
SEVERAL IN CONTENTION
A field of three, including Eastside graduate and Virginia-Wise signee Hunter Lunsford, Wise-Central softball coach Evan Sturgill and Nick Vanhoose, of Paintsville, Ky., each shot a 1-over 72, while two-time defending tournament champion Craig Winchell, of Wise, finished the first day with a 2-over 73, four strokes behind the leader.
Cotton McDavid, George Roat and Matt Dotson each finished with a 3-over 74 on the first day.
James White, of Kingsport, led the Seniors flight with an even 71, while Tony Green shot a 2-over 73 and Tim Robinette finished with a 3-over 74.
FLIGHT PLAY SUSPENDED
Late-day play in the tournament was met with heavy rain and thunderstorms, which forced flight play to be suspended.
The tournament is scheduled to resume early Sunday morning.