Golf is his profession but Adam Hadwin’s sporting love growing up in British Columbia, and remains, baseball.
On Sunday the 29 year-old had the biggest hit of his life (so far) at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida, earning his first PGA TOUR victory in a heated battle with Patrick Cantlay. It was one where the rest of the field melted away and left the pair to face off in an afternoon that put much of Canada on the edge of their seats.
No moment was bigger than on the 16th hole where Hadwin finally separated himself from a charging Cantlay. The challenger had made five birdies in a six hole stretch leading into 15th hole but he made a bogey there that handed Hadwin a two-stroke edge. Unfortunately for Hadwin that evaporated when the Abbotsford-raised golfer dumped his tee shot in the water and made a double bogey. The 462-yard start to the “Snake Pit” had bitten once again. The question was, would it be fatal?
Hadwin, who has two Web.com Tour and two Mackenzie Tour wins to his credit and led the PGA TOUR’s CareerBuilder Challenge earlier this year (where he also shot 59) after 54 holes but ultimately finished second, kept his focus. He mirrored the calm he displayed during his opening rounds of 68, 64, and 67, as he tried to find a way to get into the clubhouse ahead of the rest of the field.
“I knew I was still in the golf tournament,” said Hadwin afterward about his wet tee shot on 16. “Obviously I wanted to make that putt for bogey to really get away from that hole not losing too much. I’ve played great golf all week. I knew that 17, 18 are no bargain, you’ve got to hit good quality golf shots so I had to refocus quickly and get back into it. Patrick had played some unbelievable golf up until that point as well. I knew that I just couldn’t kind of coast in.”
The mindset paid off as Cantlay, who had struggled with his sand shots all week, faltered on the final hole of regulation at the Innisbook Copperhead course. He left his third shot from the green-side bunker of the par four well short of the flag. Hadwin then played a delicate third shot from the back fringe with the leading edge of his wedge; working it to a comfortable range.
When Cantlay missed his 17 foot par save, Hadwin was left to tap in a one foot putt for victory.
The overjoyed Canadian was near speechless immediately afterward. “I don’t now what to say right now, honestly,” he told Steve Sands of Golf Channel. “I fully expected Patrick to make that (par) putt. I said yesterday I just wanted a chance to win coming up the last and I had that chance. I thought we were going to have to make birdies to win it but I’m just lucky that one footer wasn’t one and half feet, that’s all I know,” he shared, revealing just how nervous he was.
With the win Hadwin becomes the second Canadian winner on the PGA TOUR in 2016/2017. He follows Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes who was a winner at the RSM Classic in November.
Hadwin will now also join Hughes at Augusta National Golf Club next month for the playing of The Masters. 2003 Masters Champion Mike Weir will fill out the Canadian trio playing in Georgia.
Of course, in baseball, to complete a home run you need to touch four bases. Shooting 59, a PGA TOUR win, a trip to The Masters – that’s good for three. Just a guess but I’d still say home plate for Hadwin will happen on March 24th with fiancee Jessica, as he laid out in his press conference after the third round in Florida. Jessica was the first to greet him as he left the final green at the Valspar.
“I’m in a good spot right now. I’m getting married in a couple weeks, and playing some incredible golf, and you know, just life’s good.”
Home run? Now that I think about it that sounds more like a Grand Slam…
Congratulations to Adam Hadwin, Canada’s newest PGA TOUR winner.
Other Canadian finishers at Valspar Championship – David Hearn (t-18), Graham DeLaet (t-22), Nick Taylor (t-62).
Adam Hadwin WITB at Valspar Championship
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic (10.5 degrees)
3 Wood: Callaway GBB Epic (14.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Callaway X Hot Pro (18 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Apex UT (21 degrees), Callaway MB1 (5-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 2 Tour Grind (52-10T, 56-10T, 60-9T)
Putter: Odyssey Tank Cruiser V-Line
Golf Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X