PGA kiddies hanging with big boys

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Hopefully, this is a refreshing trend on the PGA Tour with young dudes like Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy operating on the positive side of inexperience, oblivious to the theory that they're not supposed to be hanging tough against the best in the world.

The RBC Canadian Open has had a taste of such characters, including Victor Ciesielski, who charmed and excited the galleries at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in 2006 with his shaggy do and plaid pants, while hanging in there until the final round.

Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., struck in similar fashion at St. George's this year, tying for 37th to earn low Canadian honours and displaying the same charisma as Ciesielski four years earlier, even earning a few belly laughs from the grumps in the media centre.

Whether Hadwin carries that too-young-to-know attitude all the way to the PGA Tour this year remains to be seen, but he's off to a good start with a five under in the first stage of Q-school at Carlton Oaks in Santee, Calif,, where he tied for eighth to move on.

Hadwin, 22, will find out where he's playing the second stage tomorrow, but it marks the second time in two years that he's made it that far after a 2010 Canadian Tour season that earned him five top-10s, including two runner-ups, in seven events.

"I feel like (first stage) was a little tougher this year. I wouldn't say it was because I was playing worse, but I think the field was a lot stronger than when I went last year," said Hadwin, who was familiar with Carlton Oaks.

"I decided since I got through Canadian Tour Q-school this year at Carlton Oaks, I said,

`Well, I've got some good vibes at the course right now, so I might as well go back and do it again,' but the field was strong," he said. "You had to put four solid rounds together."

In the world according to Hadwin, bring it on because the tests keeping getting more difficult each step of the way.

"If you get through first stage at an easy site, you're going to have to get through second stage at a harder site, so why not make first stage harder and play well? This way, you know that you've got to play well and not just kind of average to get through," he said.

"That's what (Q-school) is. It's hard and it's meant that way, so only the best get through and they prove themselves," said Hadwin, who will warm up for second stage at the Canadian Tour's Desert Dunes Classic in California.

Tough fields are nothing new to Hadwin. Besides his performance at the Open, he tied for 27th at Nationwide Tour's Wayne Gretzky Classic in a summer when his game came together with remarkable consistency.

"I hit the ball really well this summer. There weren't too many days where I was hitting badly. I was very consistent with the driver. I was putting it in play and my irons were good. I was hitting a lot of greens, giving myself a lot of looks at birdie," he said.

"When you give yourself a lot of chances at birdies and you're not scrambling very much, it makes the game a lot easier," said Hadwin, adding his experiences on the PGA and Nationwide Tours prepared him well for the tests ahead of him right now.

"I can build on those experiences," he said.

hutchgolf@netzero.com


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