Q-School: Claxton makes a name for himself
Thursday, December 1, 2011
LA QUINTA, Calif. – No, the world didn’t officially end Thursday, although it looked and felt like it here in desert – overcast, temperatures in the 50s, winds gusting to 40 miles-per-hour.
Figuratively speaking, the world did end, albeit temporarily, for Brenden Pappas. He shot 86 in the second round of the six-round PGA Tour Q-School.
Cliff Kresge and Johnny DelPrete were 10 strokes higher in round 2 than they were in round 1, posting identical scores of 72-82.
Six more golfers, including PGA Tour veteran Tim Petrovic, failed to break 80 in the second round.
Two PGA West layouts (the Stadium Course by Pete Dye and the Nicklaus Tournament Course by Jack Nicklaus) are being used for the Q-School. With a blast of winter weather, both proved to be equal opportunity bogey masters.
Still, there were success stories. One belonged to Paul Claxton, who added a 69 to his opening 73 and improved his position in the 172-player field from T-126 to T-47.
If it is true that an interesting story lies behind every individual, let’s take a closer look at nice-guy Paul Claxton from Claxton, Ga.
“Do you own the town?” he was asked.
He laughed (he doesn’t own the town).
Claxton, 43, grew up in Vidalia, Ga., and earned a business degree from the University of Georgia, where he played on the golf team.
When he wasn’t playing golf, he was lucky enough to meet Miss Paula Parker of Claxton, Ga.
Now, he announced proudly, “We’re the only Claxtons who live in Claxton.”
The tale gets better. Claxton also is the only golfer on the planet to be sponsored by a fruit cake company. That would be Claxton Fruit Cake, which has been owned and operated by his wife’s family for more than 100 years.
For the last five months of the year, Claxton Fruit Cake produces 90,000 pounds of fruit cake daily. Translation: That’s every day, because this famed fruit cake is shipped all over the world to be sold by grocery stores and major retail chains such as Wal-Mart.
While Paul Claxton chases birdies for a living, Paula Claxton works in the family business. Paul and Paula, they’re a successful team.
Need evidence? Meet their two children, 7-year-old Paul and 4-year-old Paula. Let’s see: Paul and Paula named their kids Paul and Paula.
Oh, sorry, the story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Paula Claxton’s parents. Meet Paul and Paula Parker.
Three generations of Paul and Paula has its advantages and disadvantages.
Reflected Paul the golfer, who is witty enough to double as a comedian: “We’re pretty simple. You only need to know a couple of names, and you can talk to all of us.”
Things can be a little different in the South. “Everybody thought we were related before we got married, but of course we weren’t,” said Claxton, pondering a confusion of names.
Playing on the 2011 Nationwide Tour, Claxton made 17 cuts in 26 tournaments. He won $140,544 to rank 40th on the final money list.
Back in 2008, he played on the PGA Tour but missed 15 cuts in 23 events. He lost his card and has been fighting ever since to get it back.
“My parents still ask me when I’m going to get a job and be like normal folks,” he said.
If such a turn of events ever happens, the little piece of paper in his fortune cookie probably will say “Claxton Fruit Cake.”
Eventually he was asked the ultimate food question: “Do you really like fruit cake?”
“I do, actually,” he answered. “It has its time and place. It’s something to talk about with people from other parts of the country.”
Okay, sports fans, what’s your pleasure? Birdies and bogeys, or fruit cakes?
Like everything else in this story, the answer may not be exactly clear.