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June 22--  Vidalia pro golfer Paul Claxton had a string of five birdes in the final round of the PGA Professional Championship Wednesday at Sunriver Resort in Oregon and finished two under par and tied for third place, two strokes back of the winning score.

paulclaxtonswing"It was a great week.  I did what I wanted to do.  I wanted to make the PGA and I accomplished that.  I take nothing but positive thoughts from the week.  It was great being in the hunt with a chance to win.  It didn't go my way this time, but I have a lot to be proud of and be thankful for.  I had a great time," he said.

Paul birdied holes seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven, "I was saying this is fun and is what it's all about ,the last round, being in the zone, strung together a few good shots and made a couple of nice putts,and with a little more practice and tournaments under my belt I think I could have done a little better, but all in all it was positive," he said.

Before he left the PGA tour, Paul played in two U.S. Opens, but the PGA Championship coming up in August at Quail Hollow in Charlotte will be a first for him, "I've never played in one and it will be a treat to play.  I played Quail Hollow in the Wachovia Tournament which they used to play there.  It's an old style course and I'm looking forward to seeing how I can do there."

Paul is the pro at Hawk's Point Golf Course in Vidalia and thanked the home folks who followed his performance on The Golf Channel, "I appreciate y'all keeping up with me and I appreciate all the support," he said.

Paul Claxton punches ticket to first PGA Championship with top-5 finish at PPC

Paul Claxton
Montana Pritchard/PGA of America
Paul Claxton, 49, made a career playing the Web.com and PGA Tours. But, until Wednesday, he had never qualified for the PGA Championship. Thanks to a top-5 finish at Sunriver, he'll be at Quail Hollow in August.
 
 
By T.J. Auclair
PGA.com
Connect with T.J.

Series: PGA

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 | 9:31 p.m.

SUNRIVER, Oregon -- Paul Claxton from Claxton, Ga. -- just a coincidence, "my wife is from Claxton and she said that's where we were going to live" -- is headed to his first PGA Championship.

Claxton, 49, spent four seasons on the PGA Tour and has more than $1,800,000 in career earnings on the Web.com Tour, second all-time.

For the last two years, however, he's been working at Hawk's Point Golf Club in Vidalia, Ga. as a club professional.

In his first crack at the PGA Professional Championship, Claxton finished 72 holes at 2-under 285 to easily qualify for the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow -- a course he's a little bit familiar with.

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"I played in the Tour event there a couple of times, so I know the golf course a little bit and it's pretty close to home, so that's a nice thing -- to be able to play in a major close to home," he said. "I'm excited about that."

Claxton had the lead for a stretch on Wednesday after making birdie on five consecutive holes (Nos. 7-11).

"I was in the zone, as they say," Claxton said. "Things were going well. I hit some good shots, made some good putts. It was in the part of the golf course where I had a couple of par 5s and a short par 4, so I was in the scoring area of the golf course. Things were going pretty good, but then the wind got up and it played very tough coming in."

The trouble started on the 449-yard, par-4 14th. Claxton found the right rough with his tee shot and decided to take a crack at the green with a rescue club.

"I had a flier lie and I had my rescue club," he explained. "I felt like if I could just get some air under it, that I could knock it on the green or over the green and make 5 at worst. Coming out of the rough, you never know what it's going to do. It knuckled on me and I never got any air under it (and it flew into the hazard). It was probably a poor decision, but I made a nice bogey. That hole was playing like a par 5 today anyway, so I was feeling OK getting out of there with a bogey."

Claxton would also bogey holes 16 and 17 at Crosswater to finish with a 1-under 71 for the day.

"I'm looking forward to the PGA Championship," he said. "That was my goal coming out here, so I'm very pleased that I was able to do that. I've never played in one, so I'm looking forward to it... I've been working in a shop for two years, so I was leaking a little oil coming in. I need to work on my game a little bit before I head to Quail Hollow. It was fun to get in the hunt and feel a little pressure. It lets me know that I have some work to do and that's OK. I enjoy practicing and hopefully I'll get to do some more of it." 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.

 
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