Golf

Hadwin is new face of Canadian golf

Peter Robinson figures Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., has the moxie to parlay his impressive performance in the Canadian Open at Vancouver's Shaughnessy into full-time PGA Tour status.

When Adam Hadwin's final putt dropped Sunday at 2:48 p.m. PT, the sound of the ball hitting the bottom of the cup at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club may as well been a signal that he is now officially Canada's next golfer to watch.

What Hadwin does with all the attention remains to be seen.

The 23-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., recorded his best finish in three career PGA Tour starts, tying for fourth in the Canadian Open and earning $228,800 US in the process.

The other two showings were respectable, too — a T37 in last year's Canadian Open and a T39 in last month's U.S. Open.

Canadian Content

Both playoff participants had recently severed Canadian connections. Sean O'Hair parted ways with Sean Foley, his Canadian swing coach, earlier this season, but paid tribute to his old instructor when he won.

O'Hair also had Brennan Little, Mike Weir's ex-caddie, on his bag briefly this season. Runner-up Kris Blanks  recently ended a long stretch with Canadian caddie A.J. Eathorne, a former LPGA pro now looping for Brittany Lincicome since May.

The final outcome was somewhat disappointing given how strong he started, but Matt McQuillan (T31) rose to 146th on the PGA Tour money list, a jump of six spots. David Hearn  remained 129th with a T34 at Shaughnessy. The Top 125 retain full status for 2012 with the next 25 players getting conditional cards and a free pass to the final stage of PGA Tour Q-school.

Canadian Tour members Brad Fritsch (T71) and Dustin Risdon  (73) had a rough ride Saturday and Sunday. But both did well to make the cut considering only five of 17 Canadians entered survived.

Peter Robinson

Signs that Hadwin has serious potential first surfaced in the spring of 2010, shortly after he turned pro and began turning heads by posting a number of high finishes right out of the gate on the Canadian Tour. Fifteen months — and two Canadian Tour wins later — Hadwin was playing in the final group in a PGA Tour event at Shaughnessy and not looking out of place whatsoever.

This week's impressive play aside, the road ahead could be arduous for a mercurial talent like Hadwin. Securing a full-time ticket on the PGA Tour is often a ruthless task — a road generally measured in years, not months.

Yet ability notwithstanding, Hadwin has a few things going for him. Making the cut at the U.S. Open earned him a first-stage pass in the three-stage PGA Tour qualifying school in the fall. Essentially, if Hadwin can play well during the second stage, he'll earn at least Nationwide Tour status in 2012 because every golfer that qualifies for the final receives conditional status on the developmental circuit. That, in itself, would represent one significant step up in the pro pecking order from the Canadian Tour, his home tour right now.

Until then, Hadwin's representatives would be well served to sniff out opportunities for him to play on the Nationwide and PGA circuits courtesy sponsor's exemptions. Competition for such coveted spots is always stiff, especially with the dwindling schedule. But surely, Hadwin has some appeal, as indicated by the liberal amounts of attention paid to him on the U.S. network broadcast of the Canadian Open.

For now, Hadwin has secured a spot in next week's Greenbrier Classic and, with the fine play he has shown in limited PGA Tour starts, is certainly capable of continuing his fine run. Top 10 finishes permit players to keep playing through to the next PGA Tour tournament. But just a few events remain before the tour begins its playoff series in a little over a month.

In all likelihood, Hadwin will return to the Canadian Tour to, at the very least, defend his crown at the Desert Dunes Classic in November. That event was created to help Canadian Tour members prepare for the second stage of Q-school and that is precisely what Hadwin will be looking to do.

Overall, it will be an interesting next couple of months for the likeable Hadwin. In addition to Sunday's impressive result, there were some very encouraging signs at varying times at Shaughnessy.

The first came Friday when he made a clutch up-and-down for a bogey on the 18th, limiting the damage from a few loose shots earlier in the hole. That set the table for Saturday's 2-under par 68 and a spot in the final group on Sunday.

After shooting 4-over on the front nine, it would have been understandable had Hadwin folded given Sunday's pressure cooker environment. But he held firm and assured himself a T4 and, to this point, a career payday with three birdies on the back side and very nearly a fourth on No. 18. Most impressively, he showed a moxie that is harder to quantify, but a required element in the dog-eat-dog world of professional touring golf.

There will be many more gut-checks in the coming months and years. But if the events of last week show anything, it's that Hadwin will likely answer the call just fine.