They are not among the Canadians currently on the PGA Tour, but Adam Hadwin, Wes Heffernan and Jon Mills carry the country's colours in this week's U.S. Open at Congressional near Washington.
It may be just a small glimpse, but that trio's qualification is interesting for what it could represent for Canadian men's golf moving forward.
Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., failed to qualify — ending his streak of consecutive majors played at 48 — as did Calgary's Stephen Ames.
As Weir and Ames move further into their 40's, the likes of Hadwin, Heffernan and Mills could be part of what Canadian golf fans have to look forward to.
Is it weird to be flying the Canadian flag without those two Canadian stalwarts in the field?
Hadwin's heart with Canucks
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is embarking on his biggest week as a pro golfer just as his favourite team, the Vancouver Canucks, is on the verge of winning its first Stanley Cup.
"Yep, I asked [sponsor] Callaway if they were OK with me going on TV with a Canucks jersey," he said, referring to a scheduled appearance to discuss his twin passions — his golf game and love for the Canucks.
Hadwin and his father, Gerry, a teaching pro, had the ultimate stroke of good fortune just before he left for Washington. Their number came up for their golf club's Canucks season tickets and they took in Game 5.
Problem is, Gerry Hadwin is a life-long Bruins fan.
"I can't believe I'm going to be in [Rogers Arena] with the only Bruins fan," quipped the younger Hadwin.
— Peter Robinson
"Mike hasn't missed a major in [a long time], so [that is] unfortunate," Heffernan said in an email. "But as far as [it being] weird, I haven't played enough PGA Tour events for it to strike me as weird not to see them there.
"It will be nice to have Jon and Adam there … hopefully, we can play some practice rounds together and have some fun."
Aside from Weir and Ames, Canada boasts four other PGA Tour players — Chris Baryla, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Matt McQuillan — who either didn't qualify or decided to concentrate on the task in front of them on the big tour.
It should be considered a good sign that three Canadians not in that group of a half-dozen PGA Tour players were able to grind out a berth through qualifying, especially if any of them play well.
In Mills's case, he's fresh off a T2 showing on the Nationwide Tour and currently inside the Top 25 that will graduate to the PGA Tour in 2012, albeit with a long way to go. The Belleville, Ont., golfer has played the U.S. Open twice previously and earned his PGA Tour card on two occasions.
Heffernan, from Calgary, first qualified for the U.S. Open 10 years ago, missing the cut. A few years ago, he seemed ready to take the next step to at least the Nationwide Tour, but he's yet to get past the second stage of PGA Tour Q-school and, therefore, finds himself back on the Canadian Tour.
"I have been working hard this year so far," he said. "I have a coach for the first time [Dennis Sheehy] and I have seen the improvements right away.
"I struggled a bit at the qualifier. But my short game got me through," referring to two late birdies that lifted him inside the qualification bracket with a shot to spare.
'It's a real honour'
Hadwin qualified by the same margin on the strength of a key up-and-down for par on the 35th hole and a 15-footer for birdie on the 36th. The Abbotsford, B.C., native continues to show signs that he could become a PGA Tour player some day.
A year ago, Hadwin took the Canadian Tour by storm by posting a handful of high finishes, including a few right out of the gate in what was his first full season as a pro. He won on that circuit late last fall and again during this year's early-season swing through Latin America.
Last July, Hadwin played well in his first Canadian Open appearance and, eventually, finished as the low Canadian. The banter he enjoyed with the media after rounds at St. George's in Toronto ensured that the golf community in this country would not soon forget the likable 23-year-old.
So when the U.S. Open begins Thursday at Congressional, the fact that three Canadians are in the field is certainly good news. That they're not named Weir or Ames is big news in itself, though it's tough to read too much into that fact.
"I think we know," Hadwin said of the trio's awareness that Canadian fans will be watching them. "We're a small group of three, but we represent a pretty big interest for Canada … it's a real honour."
As for what to expect,Hadwin is going in with his eyes wide open.
"I just want to play one shot at time and [enjoy] it," he said. "If that means I’m on the leaderboard on the weekend, great, or trying to make the cut, that's fine, too."
Adam Hadwin, 23, Abbotsford, B.C.
- Two-time Canadian Tour winner
- Canadian Tour rookie of year in 2010
- Low Canadian at RBC Canadian Open in 2010
Wes Heffernan, 34, Calgary
- Four-time Canadian Tour winner
- Played in 2007 & 2008 World Cup
- Won Canadian Tour Bursary in 2006
Jon Mills, 33, Belleville, Ont.
- Two-time Nationwide Tour winner
- Played on PGA Tour in 2006 & 2008
- Ranks 16th on Nationwide Tour money list