Can Hadwin reproduce Open thrills?

B.C. native Adam Hadwin finished with a T4 at last year's Canadian Open. (QMI Agency Files)

B.C. native Adam Hadwin finished with a T4 at last year's Canadian Open. (QMI Agency Files)

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:11 PM ET

BURLINGTON, ONT. - Before the country zeroed in on Adam Hadwin as last year’s unlikely replacement for Pat Fletcher as the most recent home boy to win the national championship, it was his own homies who were making like Adam’s Army.

“Late Friday, it was pretty cool,” recalled Hadwin, prior to his preparations at Hamilton Golf and Country Club for this week’s RBC Canadian Open.

“Basically, everybody had gone. We’re finishing up 7-7:30 that night. I still had a following of 30 to 50 people out there cheering. That kind of stuff keeps you going, keeps you in it,” he said.

Hadwin indeed kept going ... and going and going.

Over time, this will change with the Open moving around the country these days, but he had the rare opportunity as an Abbotsford lad to compete for the national title on home turf in British Columbia.

Hadwin had taken low Canadian honours in 2010 at Toronto’s St. George’s Golf and Country Club, but playing on the Canadian Tour last year, he was hardly the first choice to become the first home boy to win the Open since Fletcher in 1954.

Yet, the nation began to see what the B.C. brigade witnessed that Friday at Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club when he shot a 66 to go with his opening round 72.

By the end of Saturday, Hadwin had posted a 68 and suddenly, Canada was flirting with the idea of a homegrown champion. But Hadwin struggled on the first 11 holes with three bogeys and a double, but pulled it together with three straight birdies.

Alas, his Sunday 72 wasn’t his best effort, but it provided Canadians with some real drama and left Hadwin tied for fourth, just two shots off the winning score by Sean O’Hair.

“I had a lot of fun with it last year, just because there were so many friends and family out there,” he said.

“It was just a lot of fun being from that area. I’m sure David (Hearn) is going to get the same respect this week, being from Brantford,” said Hadwin, who will surely have cameras and notepads turned his way, as well.

“I feel like there’s a bit more expectation coming in this year and obviously, people saw what I did last year and might expect something a little bit more,” said Hadwin.

Something a little bit more than a T4 pretty much means victory, which would be a lot to ask from Hadwin, 24, who has been struggling lately on the Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide), where he’s missed the cut in four of his past five events.

That’s left Hadwin 55th on the money list when making the top 25 would earn him his PGA Tour card in 2013, but staying on the Web.com Tour this week wasn’t an option, even with an $800,000 purse at this week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitation.

Hadwin says he would have played in Canada even if he had been close to the top 25 like Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont. Scott is in 28th spot and chose to pass on the Open to stay on the Web.com Tour.

“I didn’t have a difficult decision. I was going to say yes (to the Canadian Open) regardless of where I was,” said Hadwin.

“If I had been closer (to the top 25), I would have felt more comfortable with (his decision to play in Canada), only because I wouldn’t have lost as much ground this week,” he said.

“I’m already ($45,016) back of the top 25 and with the second-biggest event going on, I’ll probably be $70-$80,000 back. Who knows? I would like to have been closer, but it is what it is and I’ll just have to have a good week here,” said Hadwin.

A similar performance to last year would be just the tonic to turn around a season that he says has had a few positives.

“I would give it a C-plus. I’ve had my moments. I’ve put myself in position a couple of events earlier to do something good,” he said.

“I just didn’t have the Sundays that I wanted to. Whenever it seems like the pressure’s on, the putter hasn’t been there,” said Hadwin.

Putting has been a particular focus off the course, but such work is not a quick fix, according to Hadwin. A finish remotely similar to last year’s Canadian Open would go a long way in the confidence department, however.

“I think it would just reaffirm everything that I’ve been working on, that it’s the right thing. When we change things and don’t see results right away, we can get discouraged, but you just have to understand that it is a process and might not come right away,” he said.

What will come right away is Open week, a time when Hadwin offers very little indication of pressure in his demeanour.

“I just have to enjoy it as much as possible. Obviously I don’t play it every week. I don’t get this treatment every week, so relish it and enjoy it, especially with this being Canada’s national championship,” he said.

“The thing of it is nobody’s going to be disappointed as long as you give it your best,” said Hadwin. “My biggest thing is I just want to show (fans) how much appreciation I have for their support.”


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