Daniel Claytor surveys a layout during a SwingThought Tour’s Carolina Series event at Myrtle Beach National Kings North. The former Barton College star has overcome injuries to play some of his best golf in his four-year pro career.
Swing Thought Tour
Daniel Claytor, who was a three-time All-American golfer at Barton College, poses with some of his championship rewards after winning the Swing Thought Tour's Bradley Putters Open on Friday at Bryan Park's Champions Course in Greensboro.
Swing Thought Tour
By Tom Ham
Senior Staff Writer
With his health no longer an issue, former Barton College All-American Daniel Claytor is playing the best golf of his professional career.
With victories in his last two starts, the 26-year-old Claytor, playing professionally for the fourth year, has established himself as one of the top performers on the relatively new Swing Thought Tour.
His latest victory came last week in the Bradley Putters Open, a National Series event, at Bryan Park near Greensboro.
Claytor fired rounds of 69-64-68—201, a sizzling 15-under-par over the par-72, 7,264-yard Champions Course to win by three shots.
Barton’s only three-time golf All-American (2011-13) trailed by three shots after the opening round but his torrid 8-under 64 the second round vaulted him into the lead in the 40-player field. Claytor aced the par-3, No. 14 layout and posted a 5-under 31 the back nine.
in the final round, Claytor wrapped up the victory and the top purse of $5,200 with birdies on Nos.10, 11, 13, 15 and 17. Second was Jake Mondy of Blacksburg, Virginia at 69-67-68—204.
Ironically, the 15-under was not Claytor’s career-low 54-hole showing. He noted that he finished 17-under and 18-under in tournaments at Mimosa Hills at Morganton early in his pro career.
“I finished three shots back both times,” he said.
A few days earlier, Claytor prevailed in a Carolina Series 36-hole event on the Kings North course at Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) National with rounds of 71-67—138 over the par-72, 7,000-yard layout. He dominated by eight shots.
AMONG TOUR’S ELITE
Thus, Claytor has vaulted atop The 44 elite group with 5,445 points. Second is Ryan Sullivan of Winston-Salem with 4,435 points. Completing the top five are Christian Brand of Charleston, West Virginia (3,625), Riley Davenport of St. Simons Island, Georgia (3,045) and Ryan Troyer of Dover, Ohio (3,045).
Finishing in The 44 elite means those 44 golfers will earn $2,000 toward qualifying school later in the year.
In the tour’s National Series, Claytor ranks fifth in earnings ($6,760) and stands fourth ($1,560) in the Carolinas Series. In the ST Points Player of the Year Race, Claytor occupies the 11th spot with 5,445 points.
Claytor explains the Swing Thought Tour is an offshoot of the now-defunct Hooters and NCA Tours and is the combination of two smaller tours that were bought out.
MUST STAY HEALTHY
In an interview from his Rocky Mount residence Monday night, Claytor, competing on his third tour, emphasized the overriding goal is to remain healthy.
“My game feels really good,” he commented. “Injuries the last two years have kept me from playing my best golf. Everything feels the best it has been.
“I am looking forward to the rest of the year. I don’t want to sound arrogant but, when I’m on my game, it’s hard for anyone to stay close to me. That’s something J.T. (John-Tyler Griffin) and I talk about a lot.”
Griffin is a former North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A individual champion from Fike High who has played professionally for several years since completing his career at Georgia Tech.
Claytor continues to practice and play at Wilson Country Club, which was also home for Grffin. Claytor’s swing coach is Reid Hill, WCC’s former head golf professional and current general manager.
Finances are a never-ceasing challenge. Claytor notes he was helped significantly from the one sponsor he secured. Presently, his professional endeavor is being financed through a business created by his parents and himself.
But health and professional and personal lives that are clicking provide a tremendous upside for the young pro.
HIS BIG GOAL
“Again, I don’t want to sound arrogant,” Claytor iterated, “but I just want to keep winning. The big goal is to make it to the final stages of qualifying school and get my card for the Web.com tour. As long as I can stay healthy, I’ve got a good chance.”
Claytor, who is in his third year as a salaried assistant coach for the Barton golf teams, considers himself an ideal fit for the pro life.
“I love it,” he declared. “I am always about travel. I prefer driving over flying and I am always getting into a car and driving to new places. I am used to being by myself or with one other person; it’s kind of relaxing. I want to get the full experience of it.”
Claytor mentions no timetable for reaching the promised land, the PGA Tour.
“I just want to keep enjoying it,” he responded. “I’m at a good place in my personal life. This is the best I’ve ever felt about my professional life and my personal life. If these things stay the same, even improve, the sky is the limit.
“I am going to try to get there until I absolutely can’t afford it, or something happens that I can’t do it.”