Claxton Climbs to the Top

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MIAMI, Fla. -- Paul Claxton fired a 5-under 66 Friday to grab a one-stroke lead after two rounds of the inaugural Miccosukee Championship. Claxton completed the first 36 holes at 11-under-par 131.
 
First-round co-leaders Mark Hensby and Grant Waite share second place at 10- under-par 132 after rounds of 3-under 68. Jason Dufner stands alone in fourth place at 9-under-par 133 after a course record 9-under 62 on Friday.
 
Claxton opened on the back nine at Miccosukee Golf & Country Club and ran off three consecutive birdies from the par-4 10th. He moved to 10-under for the event with a birdie at the par-5 14th.
 
He then ran off five straight pars around the turn. Claxton, who won the 2001 Louisiana Open, then climbed to 11-under with a birdie at the par-3 second.
 
However, he stumbled to bogey at the third. Claxton capped his round with a birdie at the par-4 fourth. He switched to a belly putter this week in an attempt to help his chances at earning his PGA Tour card for next season.
 
'I try not to think about it. If you do think about it, it'll hurt you,' said Claxton who currently stands 24th on the Nationwide Tour money list. 'You just have to play and add them up when the season's over and see where you stand.'
 
Claxton felt the need to go to the belly putter since he ranks 105th in putting and needs to climb into the top-20 on the money list to automatically earn his PGA Tour card for next season.
 
'I didn't miss any of the short putts, the three- and four-footers and that's good for me because I've been struggling with those this year,' Claxton said. 'I seem more stable over the short putts. It takes a little bit of the nerves out of it.'
 
Hensby led entering the round after opening with a 7-under 64 that included a hole-in-one. He stumbled out of the gate Friday with a bogey on the 11th, his first bogey of the event.
 
He came back with birdies on the 12th, 14th and 16th holes to move to minus-9. Around the turn, he dropped another stroke when he bogeyed the first. He was able to grab a share of second place with birdies at the third and eighth.
 
Waite, a PGA Tour veteran who has struggled this season, also stumbled at the start of his round. He bogeyed the 10th, but responded with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16.
 
He birdied the fourth to get to minus-9. However, he faltered to a bogey at the sixth but came back with consecutive birdies from the seventh to share second place.
 
Dufner was the story of the day though as he rolled in four birdies and an eagle on his opening nine. On the back nine, he recovered from a bogey at the 10th with two birdies and another eagle for a round of 62.
 
'I know it was a little bit of a stupid move to change but the new putter looked good,' said Dufner, who frequently changes putters. 'I've used between 10 and 15 putters this year. After a week or two, they go a little stale so I try to switch it around a little.'
 
Craig Bowden, Rich Barcelo, Scott Sterling and Brett Wetterich share fifth place at 8-under-par 134. Jess Daley, Kelly Gibson, Scott Gump, Andre Stolz, Roger Tambellini and Oliver Wilson are one stroke further back at minus-7.
 
The cut fell at 3-under-par 139 with 61 players advancing to the weekend.
 

Related Links
  • Leaderboard - Miccosukee Championship
  • Full Coverage - Miccosukee Championship