All eyes on Hadwin

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 PM ET

VANCOUVER - On the final day of the RBC Canadian Open, the cameras will be recording his every move.

On the first day of the event, only one guy was gathering film of Adam Hadwin.

“I'd never heard of him, never seen him or anything, until I saw him swing on the driving range the other day. I actually stopped and took a little video,” admitted California's Scott McCarron, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour.

“I videotape everybody's swing. I've got a pile of 100 guys. Swings I like, I'll take a video and keep it and compare and stuff like that.

“For me, seeing a swing like that on a young kid, I think he's going to go far.”

McCarron got another close-up look at Hadwin's swing in Saturday's third round at Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club, riding shotgun along with David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., as the Canadian Tour regular continued his unexpected climb up the leaderboard.

Golf insiders in the Great White North have known for a few years that Hadwin has a silky-smooth swing.

What everybody has been struck by this week is the way he's handled the spotlight and the pressure to end Canada's 56-year winning drought at his own national championship.

With three birdies over his first four holes on a sunny Saturday at Shaughnessy, the 23-year-old from nearby Abbotsford, B.C., enjoyed a stint atop the leaderboard at the RBC Canadian Open.

After signing off on a two-under 68 and a two-day total of four-under, he'll be in the final group for the final round, teeing off just one stroke behind playing partner Bo Van Pelt.

He'll also have thousands of patriotic fans hanging on every shot, although that scenario didn't seem to faze him during Saturday's session.

“He seemed like he was very comfortable,” McCarron said. “You'll have to ask him — he was wearing the sunglasses, so you couldn't really see his eyes — but he just looked very comfortable.”

All week, guys like Ernie Els and Lee Janzen, with five major titles between them, have talked about Shaughnessy's challenging setup giving the grizzled veterans a bit of an advantage.

And yet, here's a kid who doesn't even own a PGA Tour card — and is playing in just his third event on the world's top golf circuit — and he has an opportunity to win the biggest tournament contested in his home country.

Hadwin made a bit of a name for himself at last year's RBC Canadian Open, winning the Rivermead Cup as the top Canuck despite finishing nine shots off the pace. He was also Canada's high guy at the 2011 U.S. Open, shaving three strokes off par in the final round and finishing in a tie for 39th.

This is different, though.

For the first time in his career, the two-time CanTour title-holder has a legitimate shot at winning an event that they'll talk about on the national news.

The pressure is on, and Hadwin seems to crave it.

During Saturday's post-round press conference, he told reporters “I don't really find it surreal because I feel like I belong here.”

On Sunday, he gets a chance to prove it.

To make it happen, he'll need to show the same poise as Saturday.

“I think golfers do a pretty good job of looking relaxed, but that's not always the case underneath,” said Hearn. “(Sunday) will certainly test his nerves. I think, if he keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be just fine.”


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