Braxton Caldwell finishes 26th in state tourney

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

After winning the regional tournament and advancing to the state tournament, Pineville High School golfer Braxton Caldwell took home a 26th-place finish after finishing 10 over par.

In the first round, Caldwell started strong with three straight pars before a bogey on the fourth hole. He managed another par on hole five before sinking his second bogey of the first round on the sixth. After getting back on track with two pars on seven and eight, he had another bogey on the final hole of the front nine, bringing him to +3.

Caldwell was cruising on the back nine with three straight pars before a costly double-bogey set him back to +5 through 13 holes. On the ensuing hole, Caldwell’s fortune continued to decline with another bogey. Two more bogeys on 16 and 17 forced Caldwell into a +6 by the end of the first round.

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Off to a rough start in the second round with a bogey on the first hole, Caldwell sunk two more pars on holes two and three before another bogey on four. After another par on hole five, Caldwell sunk his first birdie of the tournament on hole six, bringing him to +1 for the second round after six holes.

After the birdie, he had three straight bogies on seven, eight and nine. Moving to the back nine, Caldwell began with four straight pars on holes 10, 11, 12 and 13. He sunk his second birdie of the day on hole 14. He finished the back nine with three more pars and a bogey on the final hole, finishing +10 through the tournament and securing a 26th place finish.

Caldwell’s mother Shannon says she had a tough time watching him play his final hole of high school golf but is incredibly proud of how he has represented himself and Pineville High School throughout his career.

“He represented himself, PHS and the First Tee of Pine Mountain so amazingly there at state,” Shannon said. “Getting to watch him play in his last golf match — well let’s just say hole 18 was tough. His father and I are excited for his next chapter to play at the division one level with Morehead State. I feel like Braxton will always represent this area in the most positive way. He has made us so proud, and he is blessed to have received such a talent from God.”

As Caldwell wraps up his high school career, he reflects on his experience as a Mountain Lion.

“Something didn’t go the way I wanted them to in high school,” said Braxton. “My sophomore year, I didn’t get to play in regionals because I was at Pebble Beach. I was at Pebble Beach, but I’d have rather been playing in regionals for sure. I just had my game together and thought I really had a chance of qualifying for state or maybe even winning it. My junior year, I had the region title within my grasp and finished badly, so I didn’t even qualify for state. That really motivated me to change my game.”

Throughout his career, Caldwell was named twice to the All-A regional team, two time all-conference and two time all-region. With voting for this year’s superlatives still to come, he may very well add to that list this season.

Caldwell will be continuing his golf career at Morehead State next year. After a summer of hard work and practice, he feels that he still has work to do to achieve his goals.

“I practiced hard this summer, and I feel like I practiced more than anybody,” said Braxton. “I’m a big believer that hard work pays off, and it has. This year, I won the two tournaments I’ve wanted to win since I knew about them. I committed to Morehead State on June 4.

“This winter I’m going to get more lessons and prepare for the next level. Jason Gandy has been an awesome swing coach in every aspect, and I’m going to be seeing him on a regular basis this winter. We are really going to work on my swing, and short game.

“MSU has had an awesome fall season so far, and I know if I want to make the travel team I’m gonna have to work my rear off. I’m focusing on getting my body more in shape this winter, along with the lessons with Jason. The high school experience is something I’ll never forget. It was the time I became a true player. It’s when I learned how to score and post a respectable number on the board even when I wasn’t hitting it well.

“I learned a lot at the high school level and I’m excited to learn even more at the division one level. My dream has always been to make a living playing golf, and to do that I’m gonna have to work harder than anyone else. I just want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way. I wouldn’t be here without them.”