BLUFFTON, SC. (WTOC) - Of the 312 players who teed off Monday hoping to score in the low 20 and win the Walter Hagan Cup at the PGA Professional Championship, only one is from our viewing area: Paul Claxton from Claxton, Georgia.
Claxton is no stranger to golf- he estimates he’s been playing around 35 years.
“Well this is what I love to do, so I’m happiest when I’m playing golf and you know, things don’t always go the way you want it to go, but you know, this is what I enjoy doing so I’m where I’m supposed to be I feel like," Claxon, who is the pro at Brunswick Country Club, said.
This is his third time playing in a PGA Professional Championship.
“It’s always fun to be with Paul," said George Brooks, Paul’s caddy. "He’s one of the better golfers I’ve worked for over the years. He’s one of those guys that I can count on to hang in there when things get tough, so, you know, it’s always a pleasure to have a golfer like that.”
Claxton says playing close to home and having familiar faces around makes a tough round a little easier.
“It’s nice. Anytime you have a national tournament like this close to where you live, it’s nice to have some friends and family come out and watch. I’ve got my good friend Michael Kay with me and he kind of held me. Held me in it today and got me through, so it was fun to see him out and follow me around.”
Kay says he tries to support his friend as often as he can.
“It’s a pleasure to watch him play. Every time he tees it up it’s fun to watch him. He’s got such a beautiful swing and he’s so solid. He’s just my hero," he said with a laugh. "I’ve told Paul every time he goes to big tournaments, I always like to try to be there and support him. Just to walk behind him and just take it all in and see how hard this game really is for these pros and how hard they really work at it and how hard they grind every time. It’s just not your recreation, you know, they really work at it hard and they’re really good.”
They say Belfair has been outstanding hosting such a large event.
“It’s been fantastic," Claxton said. "They’ve done a great job here. They rolled the red carpet out for us and things couldn’t be better.”
Kay echoed his friend.
“To drive down here and to watch him and watch this big event, cause this is beautiful out here. A lot of volunteers. A lot of hard working people. A great facility and it’s just really special to see all this.”
Claxton did make the first cut. He is tied for 43rd at three over par. He was one over today shooting a 72, so he’ll be back tomorrow. He’s expecting to have his wife and kids out at the course sometime this week.
The PGA Professional Championship at Belfair is free and open to the public and runs through Wednesday. Tuesday golfers tee off beginning at 7:20 a.m.