|Stephen Ames signs autographs after the first round of the Telus Skins Game at the Banff Springs golf course on Monday, July 25, 2011. (QMI Agency/Jesse Winter)
BANFF, Alta. — Adam Hadwin, check your inbox.
Fresh off an almost fairytale week at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, the smooth swinger from Abbotsford, B.C., can expect a message from one of the elder statesmen of Canada’s golf scene.
“I’ve got somebody sending me his e-mail, so I’m going to send him a little note — ‘Good job,’ ” said Calgary’s Stephen Ames, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and one of five participants in the Telus World Skins Game at Fairmont Banff Springs.
“Obviously, we’re looking for those younger guys from Canada to get there, and (Hadwin) is obviously one of them. But one in 50,000 is not very good at this stage. We need a few more, and, hopefully, we’ll have a few more coming up in the future.”
After finishing tied for fourth at his own national championship, Hadwin is the latest leading contender to become the future face of Canadian golf.
The 23-year-old was just one shot off the pace after three rounds at Shaughnessy and will tee it up again this week at the PGA’s Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia, trying to become the next guy in a seemingly endless line of fresh faces to taste early success on the PGA Tour.
South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel won at Augusta at the ripe ol’ age of 26, while 22-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland claimed the U.S. Open crown in a romp.
Jhonattan Vegas, 26, won this year’s Bob Hope Classic in just his fifth start on the top circuit and is leading after the opening day of the Telus World Skins Game, having snagged three skins for $55,000 during Monday’s front nine.
“I think it’s a great time for golf, in general,” said Anthony Kim, who turned 26 last month but already has three PGA Tour triumphs on his resume.
“There’s so many different countries being represented. Obviously, Jhonny and Charl and Rory, all those guys are playing so well. It’s time for some other guys to step up. I’d like to play a little bit better myself, give myself more opportunities to win, and, hopefully, that will happen because I’m working hard.
“And I think the young guys are hungry. Obviously, the veterans have a bit of an advantage as far as experience is concerned, and they know what they’re doing out there. That’s why a guy like Darren Clarke won the British Open. But, at the same time, we’re hungry, we’re ready to win, and, hopefully, we can pull more wins off.”
Kim’s thoughts were echoed by Vegas, who learned the game by swinging a broomstick at rocks and is suddenly a contender for the PGA Tour’s rookie-of-the-year honours.
“Golf has become a total global game,” Vegas said. “It’s everywhere. And when golf has spread that much, you’re going to get better players and better athletes, and that’s kind of what we’re seeing these days. Guys come here wanting to win, and like I’ve said before, if one young guy does it, the other guys are going to look up and think, ‘I can do it, too.’
“When that happens, you’re going to see a lot of Rory McIlroy performances.”
Maybe a few more fine finishes from Hadwin, too.
Canadian golf fans would certainly like that.