Throughout his impressive showing at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, Adam Hadwin marvelled at being summoned to the press room and the reaction of the gallery, so he didn’t want the RBC Canadian Open to end as he walked up 18 Sunday.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more than to hit it to a foot,” said Hadwin, who set off fireworks with a birdie-birdie finish to ignite his Canadian fans.
“It was an amazing feeling. The fans this week have kind of taken me in,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough for that. It was a lot of fun playing in front of them. I hope I get to experience that some more.”
There was no great Canadian story written with a 22-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., winning his national championship, but his one-over performance in the final round left Hadwin at five-under for the tournament to earn low Canadian honours with a tie for 37th.
“I just wanted to come in and play well and represent Canada and show that the Canadian Tour really does deserve these (six) exemptions and show that we can play at this higher stage,” Hadwin said.
“They say the Nationwide (Tour) is the proving ground for the PGA Tour, but I think the Canadian Tour is just as good a proving ground for the Nationwide and the PGA,” he said. “These next few years, you’re going to see a ton of guys come off the Canadian Tour and play competitively on the PGA.”
Hadwin and those other players we get to know in future years will toil in anonymity despite the fact that the Canadian Tour has the Jane Rogers Championship, Seaforth Country Classic and Canadian Tour Championship coming up in August in Southern Ontario.
The Canadian Tour was a road taken by Graham DeLaet, Mike Weir and Stephen Ames, among others.
It groomed Belleville’s Jon Mills, who was four-under at the Open, and Brantford’s David Hearn, who missed the cut. Both are in good shape to regain their PGA Tour cards this year through the Nationwide Tour money list, but developing players are hardly magnets for anyone other than diehards.
“People want to see the best. The best are out (on the PGA Tour), just by definition,” said Rob Grube of Palo Alto, Calif., who finished the Open at five-under along with fellow Canadian Tour player Brock Mackenzie of Yakima, Wash.
“If they’re in town, they should come out and see the Canadian Tour because there are a lot of good players as evidenced by their play this week,” Grube added.
Mills says the shroud of anonymity over the tour shields players in their formative years when a good crowd might actually contribute to a player’s development by offering something similar to what Hadwin experienced on the weekend.
“It has got to be one of the better development tours out there. It’s one of the few that you play four rounds. You walk. You’ve got caddies. You’ve got spectators. You’ve got everything roped off. It’s a good experience for any young player,” he added.
According to commissioner Rick Janes, the Canadian Tour is working with Golf Canada and other associations to enhance the experience.
“The support systems that are available to these players today are important. What we’re trying to do is to extend some of these support systems into their early years as professionals,” Janes said.
“What I mean by support is access to the sports psychologists, access to the best training, the best equipment, the best physio/sports science services that they can get,” he said. “Every player in the world of consequence has access to that and if they don’t, they’re not going to excel or reach their true potential.”v