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Area golfers excelling this summer
Bulloch Academy junior Griffin Garvin, shown here during the Bulloch County Championships, is one of many local golfers having success this summer. - photo by JOSH AUBREY/staff

For many coaches, players and even sportswriters’ summer is a time to relax, go to the beach, or play some golf. For others golf in the summer is part of improving their game, and locally there are a few who have been really standing out. 


Statesboro's Abby Newton is coming off a great sophomore season at Georgia Southern. Newton and her teammates made their first ever trip to the NCAA Regionals under first year head coach Mimi Burke this past season. Newton has carried her success and confidence into the summer and this week tied for fourth place in the Georgia Women’s Amateur at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth with a three-day total of -2. 


“The course is really tight and the greens were big and super-fast,” said Newton. “I had to have a gameplan going in and stick to it. I was actually four-over through the first eight holes in the first round. I was able to pull it together going four-under on the next 10 holes and finished even par. That gave me some confidence and I shot even par the second day and then two-under par in the final round. I figured it would take six or seven under to win and was a little surprised I was only two shots from getting into a playoff at the end.” 



Newton’s 14 birdies in the tournament was tied for the most over the three-day event. She feels that finish gives her even more confidence as she prepares for a couple more impressive events this month. Her finish in the Women’s Am helped her become selected to represent the state of Georgia in the Southeastern Challenge Match in Point Clear AL. Newton will also attempt to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Wednesday in Douglasville. 


“I was really honored to be selected to play in the Southeastern Challenge,” said Newton. “It’s kind of like a Ryder Cup style format with teams from Georgia, Florida and Alabama. There are eight girls on each team and I am pretty good friends with a couple of the girls on the Georgia Team so I am really looking forward to that.” 


Parker Claxton who played his high school golf at Pinewood will be joining the Georgia Southern golf team this fall. Claxton has had plenty of success over the summer including placing second in the Junior Masters last month in Dothan Alabama.  


The biggest accomplishment this summer for Claxton occurred last month at the Univeristy of Georgia golf course as he battled his way out of a seven-man tie to grab one of five spots available in qualifying for the U.S. Am later this month at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. A victory there would qualify Claxton for the U.S. Am and next year’s U.S. Open.  


“It was a little stressful with seven guys trying to get one of the five spots,” said Claxton. “We were all tied at 2-under and I was able to par the first playoff hole and two of the other guys made bogey and that clinched it. I’m really excited about being able to go play up at Bandon Dunes. It is supposed to be kind of a links style golf course and I have heard it’s really pretty and windy up there. The tournament is July 25-30 and there are 260 players. There are two days of stroke play and then the top 64 move on to match play. I have been playing pretty well and I’m looking forward to flying up there and playing a practice round.” 


Claxton is currently playing in the 72nd Golden Isles Invitational at Brunswick CC. After firing a 66 on Thursday Claxton is currently tied for 12th with Eagle teammates Jack Boltja and Lindsey Cordell. Luke Dasher is tied for 19th and Ian Glanton is tied for 30th. The tournament wraps up Saturday. 


A couple area high school golfers have had some success this summer as well. Bulloch Academy’s Griffin Garvin recently won a SJGT tournament at Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson. Even more impressive was Garvin’s third place finish with rounds of 72, 72 and 72 at the Vaughn Taylor AJGA Championship which automatically exempts him from playing in all AJGA events through the end of 2023. 


“I was in the last group of the day and it was a tough golf course so I knew I needed to play consistent,” said Garvin. “I struggled a little to start out, but I was able to make a few birdies coming in to finish at even par for the third straight day. The AJGA is kind of like the PGA Tour of junior golf so I’m pretty excited to be able to play in the rest of the events. My next tournament is the AJGA Mizuno Keith Mitchell Championship in Hilton Head later this month.” 


Portal’s Shelby Clark has had a busy summer as well which was highlighted by being selected to play in the GHSA North/South all-star event which was won by Clark’s South team. The format for the event included 4-ball and singles and Clark helped cap off the victory for the South team by beating her competition 8&7 in match play. 


“Our team just gelled together so well and we all formed such an amazing friendship with each other,” said Clark. “I hope I get to do it again next year, but even if I don’t, I’ll surely never forget the experience.  I have a few more tournaments coming up this month and I’m feeling very confident in my game. I hope to come out with a win soon. I’ve been working really hard and I know that with hard work comes good outcomes and I can’t wait to see what I do.”