When Will Claxton, who had just signed for a three-under 69 at PGA West’s Stadium course to get to 13-under through 54 holes, found out Lee Williams, his best pal, had made an ace on the Nicklaus Tournament course, his face lit up with a big smile. Claxton asked me, “Which hole? What’s he at (score)?” The eighth hole (with an easy 7-iron) and I wasn’t sure.
“Lee’s the only person who I know what he’s shooting,” he said. “I know his score because we’re good friends and always rooting for each other.”
Claxton hasn’t looked at a leaderboard — he never does during Q-school – and doesn’t know he’s leading by two shots. (He was tied first after the first round and then took the outright lead after the blustery second round.) Well, he has an idea of where he stands.
“I knew going into today either I was tied for the lead or right there around the lead just from the fact my friends and family are texting me,” said Claxton, who had conditional status on the Nationwide Tour and made 9 starts in 2011, with his best finish T17 at the Mexico Open Presented by Banamex.
When Williams was asked about Claxton’s no-leaderboard policy, he paused to think for a moment and then said, smiling, “That’s just him. I don’t know what else to say. He’s the only person I know that doesn’t ever check scores at Q‑school. First day, second stage, doesn’t matter. He’s just doing his normal routine for Q‑school.”
Claxton, who played his college golf at Auburn University, struggled with his ballstriking Friday, but relied on his excellent short game and scrambled to shoot three-under. Interestingly enough, putting has always been one of his weaker points, but since switching to a face-balanced Titleist putter about a month ago, he’s seen tremendous improvement on the greens.
He’s also been trying his best to approach this week like any other event (besides not checking scores), but admits it’s easier said than done.
“It’s just golf, even though it feels extremely long,” said Claxton, who had one start on the PGA Tour this year, placing T67 at the Transitions Championship in March.
“I know yesterday when I got done, I know I’m doing pretty good, but I don’t feel like the week has started yet…In my head it’s definitely different (than a week on the Hooters Tour). It’s just at a point where I know it is such a long week.”
One way to look at it is Friday was the first round if they were playing a regular tournament, so there’s a long way to go and a lot of golf left.
Somehow Claxton has eluded the camera and there aren’t any action shots of him on the internet, but here’s something better — videos of his swing, thanks to his instructor Scott Hamilton.