Three share lead at Christmas in October Classic

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Paul Claxton continues to hold a share of the lead in the Christmas in October Classic after 36 holes.
August 21, 2009
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

Overland Park, Kan. -- If somebody would have told Paul Claxton on Wednesday that he'd be sharing the lead after 36 holes of the Christmas In October Classic, he would have been a happy man. Claxton is, in fact, a happy man despite a late double-bogey that cost him the outright lead. The 41-year old Georgian stumbled on his next-to-last hole, losing a two-shot lead and falling into a three-way tie with Australian Michael Sim (67) and Michigan's Tom Gillis (68). The trio are knotted at 10-under 132 after two trips around the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate, one better than Steve Wheatcroft (67) and two up on Joe Daley (66).

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Claxton, a veteran of 306 career starts on the Nationwide Tour, remained upbeat late in the day despite his misstep at the par-3, 8th hole.

"I hit a bad shot and then I hit a poor bunker shot that didn't get out of the bunker," he said. "When you play golf long enough stuff like that happens. I'm going to try and put it behind me and think about the good things that happened."

The good things happened on Claxton's opening nine -- five birdies got him to 13-under and three better than Sim, who posted his score early in the day. Two bogeys and a lone birdie, coupled with the double, brought Claxton back to the pack. The biggest issue of the day was the wind, which kicked up and remained steady around 20 mph.

"There are no trees and there's nothing to block out there," said Claxton. "It's hammering on you all day. It seemed like a lot of crosswinds today. You're always in between clubs. It's hard to really dial it in because you're guessing a lot and we don't like to guess."

Sim birdied four of his first six holes Friday morning to reach double digits but could do no better than even par the rest of the way, finishing off his day with a bogey on the final hole. It's the second straight day that the 24-year-old Australian stumbled on his closing hole.

"I hit a good drive and a good second shot and the wind just didn't bring it back," said Sim of the 442-yard, 9th hole. "I missed it on the wrong side of the flag."

That's about the only thing Sim has done wrong of late. The former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world has won twice and has been a dominant force this year. He tied for 51st at last week's PGA Championship and is two good days away from win number three, which would give him an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR.

"I've been in this position before and I know what it feels like so I'm just going to get it out of back of my mind and just play golf the last two rounds," said Sim, who shared the 54-hole lead at the Cox Classic in Omaha four weeks ago. "I got too distracted in Omaha and thought about it too much. I'm in a position now where I can do it but I've got to try and keep the distractions to a minimum."

A total of 68 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 141.

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Second-Round Notes

• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the second round.

David Peoples (73) withdrew prior to the start of round two.

Trevor Dodds withdrew during the second round due because of illness.

• Claxton has held a 36-hole lead three times previously in his 306 career starts. Claxton's last lead came at the 2007 Peek'n Peak Classic, where he finished second.

Chad Collins, runner-up the past two weeks, posted a 6-under 65 in round two to finish at 7-under 135. Collins birdied his final four holes Friday morning.

Blake Adams has posted rounds of 66-69 and is at 7-under 135. Adams has now registered par-or-better scores in 32 of his last 34 rounds. Adams had a streak of 24 consecutive rounds end with a 1-over 73 in the final round of last week's Price Cutter Charity Championship.

• Two-time winner Kevin Johnson missed the cut with scores of 70-75. Johnson, No. 6 on the money list, has missed six of his last seven cuts since a playoff win at the Knoxville Open in late June. Johnson has carded only four sub-par scores in his last 16 rounds.

Adam Bland (68-69) is tied for 10th after 36 holes. Bland opened the year by making the cut in five of his first six starts but had fallen into a bit of slump by missing the cut in six of his next seven prior to this week. Bland is No. 62 on the money list.

Andrew Bonhomme (70-71) will be around for the weekend for the first time since the Michael Hill New Zealand Open in mid-March. Bonhomme tied for 4th that week and had missed the cut in his last 10 starts.

Gavin Coles (68-73) birdied the final hole Friday afternoon to make the cut on the number. Coles' last-minute heroics extended his consecutive cut streak to seven.

Marco Dawson (71-74) missed the cut, snapping a string of 11 consecutive cuts made. In fact, it's Dawson's only missed cut of the year. He withdrew in his first start, the Chitimacha Louisiana Open and then made 11 straight.

Jeff Gove (68-72) made the cut in his 13th straight start. Gove's last early exit came at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the Tour's first domestic event, in late March. Gove is No. 13 on the money list.

Derek Lamely, who has finished first and T2 in his last two starts, has carded scores of 70-68 and is tied for 19th heading into the weekend.

David McKenzie (68-69) has made 12 cuts in a row. McKenzie has only one top-15 finish in that string, a T3 at the Knoxville Open, where he held the 54-hole lead.

Dave Schultz, who had finished T3, T2 and T5 in his last three starts and climbed to No. 19 on the money list, missed the cut when he posted rounds of 76-72.

• Players continue to take advantage of the wide fairways and soft conditions. Blake Adams, Joe Daley, Bubba Dickerson and Omar Uresti each hit 27 of 28 fairways.

• Amateur Harry Higgs, who should be starting his senior year at nearby Blue Valley North High School this week, won't be around for the weekend after rounds of 69-84. The 17-year old got into trouble on his fourth hole of the day, the par-4, 13th when he took a quadruple-bogey 8. Higgs could not find his tee shot in the heavy weeds and accepted a ride back to the tee to hit another shot. The lost ball cost him two strokes and he incurred another two-stroke penalty for the cart ride. Higgs, who has already committed to playing golf for Southern Methodist University in the fall of 2010, also had four double-bogeys Friday and only one birdie.

• A note on Saturday's third-round pairings. Michael Sims will be in the first twosome off the tee at 8:00 a.m. Michael Sim will be in the final twosome at 1:10 p.m.

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