Claxton, a Swainsboro, Ga., native, was 5-under-par through 15 holes at Harbour Town Golf Links and firmly in the top 10. But a bogey at the 16th, followed by a double bogey at the 18th, pushed him down the leaderboard.
“It’s a little disappointing, but all in all it was a great day,” said Claxton, who finished with 2-under 69 and is at 3-under 210 for 54 holes, or eight shots off the lead. “I knew I needed to go out and be aggressive, but this isn’t always a golf course that rewards that. You just have to be patient.”
Claxton toured the front nine in 4-under 32, and when he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt from just off the green at the par-3 14th he jumped onto the front page of the leaderboard.
That’s when fortune turned against him. The par-4 18th at Harbour Town, which runs adjacent to Calibogue Sound, had been playing downwind all week. On Saturday, however, it was into the wind, and after a solid drive Claxton still had nearly 200 yards to the back pin.
His 4-iron approach shot went left, in an area where he “couldn’t get much club on the ball.” His third shot didn’t reach the green, and his fourth ran a few feet past the pin. His putt for bogey lipped out.
Claxton, 31, spent plenty of time on golf’s developmental tours after graduating from Auburn in 2005. He earned his PGA Tour card for 2012, and kept it by finishing in the top 125 on the money list thanks to a pair of top-10 finishes.
This week, Claxton is trying to enjoy the tournament that is close to his Swainsboro roots. He has plenty of family and friends on hand, and he said they were cheering when he rolled in a few long birdie putts Saturday.
With just $23,885 in earnings this year, Claxton could use a good finish today.
But he’s not going to let it overwhelm him.
“It would be nice, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of tournaments left this season, but I definitely need a confidence booster and I feel I’ve already got that regardless of what happens.”