Hadwin the new face of Canadian golf?

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:11 PM ET

VANCOUVER - You get the feeling this kid will have another opportunity to win a PGA Tour event.

During Sunday's rollercoaster final round at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open, Adam Hadwin got that feeling too.

“I can compete with them,” Hadwin said after finishing in a tie for fourth in just his third appearance on the world's top tour.

“I played some great golf and they played some great golf, and in the end, I only fell two shots short. So, I belong out here.”

Sean O'Hair is the guy who had his name engraved on the trophy.

However, it was Hadwin that left Shaughnessy Golf & Country Club as an emerging fan favourite, suddenly the leading contender to replace Mike Weir as the face of Canadian golf.

The pressure to end Canada's 56-year winning drought at our own national championship — "I felt like I was playing for my country out there," he said — seemed to be weighing on the 23-year-old Hadwin at the beginning of Sunday's final round.

He arrived at Shaughnessy just one shot off the pace, but made a bogey on the first hole and another on the sixth.

The low point of his round — and probably his week — came at the 210-yard eighth hole, where he four-putted for a double bogey. Hadwin's tee-shot landed on the corner of the green, but he missed his par putt from about eight feet away, then couldn't drop a six-foot bogey attempt from the other side of the hole.

When he walked away from the eighth green, you wondered if Hadwin would be able to regain his composure. 


By the time he walked up the fairway at No. 18, receiving a stirring ovation from a patriotic crowd, he had answered that question and then some.

Hadwin carded another bogey at No. 11, but then rattled off three consecutive birdies to climb back up the leaderboard. He couldn't sink a 10-footer for birdie on the finishing hole, but finished just two strokes behind winner Sean O'Hair and shared fourth spot with former major champion Geoff Ogilvy. He also earned an invite to next week's Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.

“I'm extremely proud,” Hadwin said.

“I kept telling myself that whole time, 'You're not as bad as you're showing. You've been playing some great golf, so just stick your head down and keep doing what you're doing and give yourself some chances.' Finally, some putts rolled in.”

Before we anoint Hadwin as the next big thing in Canadian golf, keep in mind he still doesn't own a PGA Tour card or even a Nationwide Tour card.

But if this week's showing is any indication, he won't be campaigning on the Canadian Tour for long.

Everybody remembers Rory McIlroy's meltdown in April at Augusta National, just two months before he ran away with the title at the U.S. Open.

The RBC Canadian Open doesn't rank among the PGA Tour's big four, but Hadwin called it “our country's major” earlier this week and there's no doubt it was a big deal to him.

A win would have been nice, but losing could actually make him better.

“You aren’t going to build a career on one event,” Hadwin said afterward. “If I fold, people are going to look at me like a one-hit wonder. I don’t want that.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/SUNGilbertson


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