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Albany duo tied for lead at Ga. Four-Ball

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- So what's better: grabbing an early lead and looking over your shoulder for the next two days, or hanging around and making a charge when it matters most?

"The Georgia State Golf Association has some fine golfers here this weekend," began Albany's Spencer Davis on Friday, "so you'd like to be up close after every round -- but we also like where we are."

Ain't that the truth.

Davis and fellow Albanian Craig Taylor holed seven birdies and an eagle for a scorching 64 and were tied for the lead with Nic Daugharty of Valdosta and Tifton's Casey Willis after the first round Friday of the men's 39th annual Georgia Four-Ball Championship at Doublegate, which is hosting one of the state's most prestigious annual amateur golf tournaments for a record fifth time.

Davis said he and Taylor have been friends on and off the course for years but had never played a tournament together before this weekend.

"It's worked out pretty good so far, huh?" Davis joked before getting serious. "But we've got a long way to go and a lot of golf left to play."

The local duo's only blemish on an otherwise amazing round came on the 155-yard, par-3 sixth where they posted bogey. Other than that, they cupped three birdies, at Nos. 2, 4 and 8, to put them at 2-under by the turn.

But think that was good? Check out Taylor and Davis' back nine, which included birdies on Nos. 10, 12 and 14 and an eagle at 15. The Albany tandem then closed out the day out with a birdie on 18 for a 64 and share of the lead.

"We play a good bit at Doublegate and at River Pointe (so that's an advantage), for sure," Davis said. "But I tell you what, we really putted well (Friday) -- that was the key. That, and Craig really drove the ball well."

Co-leaders Daugharty and Willis, who opened their round on No. 10, carded a birdie on their first hole. After pars on each of the next two holes, the duo connected on birdie putts at each of the next three holes. A birdie on the 397-yard, 18th left them making the turn at 5-under. The tandem went on to make birdies on the second, third and seventh holes to close out the day with a bogey-free, eight-under 64.

The second round gets under way at 8:30 a.m. today. Daugharty and Willis go off at 9:40 a.m. from No. 1, while Davis and Taylor tee off at 1:20 p.m. from No. 10.

Following the second round, the field of 58 teams will be cut to the low 40 and ties for the final round.

Jack Hall of Saint Simons Island and Savannah's Danny Nelson, the 2005 Georgia Four-Ball champs, posted an opening-round total of 65 and are tied for third with Corey Murrell of Kingsland and Wes Spannuth of Brunswick. Baxley's Adam Thomas, teamed with McDonough's Dave Womack, is tied for the fifth spot with Kyle Harper of Hartwell and Greg Kennedy of Duluth. Wright Waddell and Madden Hatcher III, both of Columbus, tallied a 5-under 67 in the first round to sit in a tie for seventh place with Carter Collins of Statesboro and Steve Collins of Claxton.

Nine teams are tied for ninth at 4-under.

One of those teams, however, was not the other local Albany duo, Blake Clanton and Dwayne Hale, who had a heck of a day at 2-under, but remained well off the lead in a tie for 27th overall.

Other local players included Dawson's Ron Lee, who played with Statesboro's Michael Jackson as they posted a 2-over 74 and were in a tie for 47th. Americus' Bud Harrod teamed with Ellaville's Duane Broxterman, though the duo struggled with a 4-over and found themselves in a tie for 54th.

But even though potential severe weather could put a damper on today's second round, Davis said he and Taylor really hadn't talked about anything but Friday.

After all, "you couldn't really ask for a better day of golf (in the first round)," Davis said. "Especially when you're playing well."

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Herald sports editor Danny Aller and GSGA staffer Eric Cheeks contributed to this report