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Air Capital notes: Claxton clicks in third round

  • Eagle correspondent
  • Published Saturday, June 15, 2013, at 7:58 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 15, 2013, at 7:58 p.m.

Web.com Tour veteran Paul Claxton set the bar for moving day at the Air Capital Classic with his 8-under-par 63 Saturday morning at Crestview Country Club.

Nobody else was able to match the 45-year-old from Sea Island, Ga.

“I felt like I’ve been playing well, but I haven’t been getting a lot of results out of my game,” said Claxton, who vaulted from the cut line into a seven-way tie for third after the third round, two shots behind leader Scott Parel. “I finally did everything pretty good.”

Claxton, a tour winner during the 2001 and 2007 seasons, took sole possession of Air Capital Classic records for cuts made (11) and consecutive cuts made (8) on Friday. On Saturday, he posted his lowest 18-hole score in 31 competitive rounds on Crestview’s North course.

Claxton said a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-5 second hole, which followed a mediocre pitch shot, jump-started his round.

“It’s hard to get all parts of your game clicking at the same time,” said Claxton, whose best finish at Crestview is sixth in 2009. “That’s what my problem has been this year. Today, I made some putts, I drove the ball good and kind of did everything pretty solid.”

Rock Chalk and EMAW – It didn’t take long for Chris Thompson and Aaron Watkins to notice what was up when the third-round pairings were announced Friday night.

Thompson, 36, an Independence native who lives in Lawrence, played collegiately at Kansas. The 30-year-old Watkins played at Kansas State.

“Before the pairings came out, I was looking at it and knew there was a chance I was going to play with him,” Watkins said. “I’ve known Chris for the last few years, so it was a good pairing for both of us.”

Thompson had the better day Saturday. A Monday qualifier at Auburn Hills, Thompson fired a back-nine 31 en route to a 7-under 64 that moved him into a tie for third place after 54 holes. Watkins, who birdied three of his first four holes, hit a rough spot in the middle of his round and finished with a 1-under 70.

“I was just kind of plodding along and, all the sudden, birdie, birdie, eagle,” Thompson said of his stretch of closing holes that moved him to 9 under for the tournament. “I feel like I’ve put myself in position where if I play a good round tomorrow, I’ll have a chance. That’s a lot more than could be said sleeping on it last night.”

Thompson said he heard a few spectators saying “Rock Chalk” and “EMAW” — signature chants among the Sunflower State schools’ fan bases —during the round.

“I like Aaron,” Thompson said. “We’ve played a lot together and I enjoy it. It was a great pairing for me. I wish we could do it again, but it didn’t work out.”

Making their mark – Seven Web.com golfers survived the 36-hole cut in the U.S. Open at Merion. After the third round, Ed Loar, the tour’s No. 2 money leader, was tied for 23rd at 7 over.

Other current tour members still competing include 2011 Air Capital Classic champion Mathew Goggin, Steven Alker, Matt Bettencourt, Bio Kim, John Peterson and Matt Weibring.

What a relief – Aaron Goldberg’s adventure at the festive par-3 17th turned out just fine.

Goldberg’s tee shot on the 202-yard hole came to rest 30 feet beyond a double decker grandstand around the green. Goldberg was granted relief from the man-made obstacle, then granted relief again from a smaller drinks tent.

He eventually took a free drop between the drinks tent and a smaller grandstand, pitched to 12 feet and received a nice ovation after making the par putt.

Goldberg, who shot 70, finished the third round at 6 under.

Etc. – Two-time Air Capital Classic champion Brad Elder is tied for 24th after shooting a 71 on Saturday. Jeff Klauk (70), the 2003 winner, is tied for 49th.… Bhavik Patel, part of the large group of players at 9 under, was a U.S. Amateur semifinalist in 2009 at Tulsa’s Southern Hills.… Camillo Benedetti (68) eagled the par-5 second and par-5 14th on Saturday.… The Air Capital Classic champion will receive $117,000 of the tournament’s $650,000 prize money.

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