U.S. Open will have some fresh Canadian content

Calgary's Wes Heffernan will be teeing it up at the U.S. Open this weekend. (QMI files)

Calgary's Wes Heffernan will be teeing it up at the U.S. Open this weekend. (QMI files)

Ian Hutchinson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 PM ET

This week’s U.S. Open will be like no other in recent memory with Tiger Woods MIA with injuries and, from this country’s perspective, the conspicuous absence of Mike Weir, Stephen Ames and the rest of Canada’s PGA Tour brigade.

That lends credence to the theory often espoused here that there is life in golf outside the big league and therefore, Canada’s flag-bearers at Congressional are denizens of the Canadian Tour and Nationwide Tour.

At Gold Mountain in Bremerton, Wash., Calgary’s Wes Heffernan and Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., shot identical two-round totals of 139 to punch their tickets in, while Belleville’s Jon Mills used a sparkling second-round 64 to get through sectional qualifying at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

Mills, who had a couple of one-year go-rounds on the PGA Tour, is knocking on the door again and is inside the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list who graduate. After a late start due to the birth of his son Ben, Mills was 16th last week after tying for second at the Melwood St. George’s County Open.

“Obviously, you need weeks like that to get in position where you can get your card. You need a few of those, so it’s definitely nice to get it now,” said Mills, who will be playing in his third U.S. Open.

“It’s one of those things that I’m going to use some of the experience I’ve gotten in the last two and try to have some confidence in my game,” he added.

Heffernan, who won the recent Alberta Open, isn’t a total stranger to the U.S. Open either, having played ten years ago at Southern Hills where he missed the cut.

“I wasn’t ready at that point,” he admitted. “It was more of an experience for me, just taking it all in. I played with Fred Couples, Davis Love and Brad Faxon, which was a huge thrill.

“At that point, I really didn’t have any expectations because I had just turned pro the previous year at the Canadian Open. It was more just to have fun and see what happens. I remember hitting a lot of good shots, (but with) just a lot of stupid mistakes that a young guy makes,” he said.

With ten years of Canadian Tour experience, including four wins, and a couple of World Cup appearances, Heffernan, who recently started working with Ames’ former coach Dennis Sheehy, figures things will be different this time around.

Unlike Mills and Herffernan, U.S. Open experience is a benefit that Hadwin, 23, is lacking, but he had the second win of his short Canadian Tour career earlier this year and was third on the money list last week.

Those who won’t move their noses out of the PGA Tour may recall Hadwin being low Canadian at last year’s RBC Canadian Open after tying for 37th.

“You really only know how good you are until you move up and play at another level,” Hadwin said.

“The Canadian Open was another step up and another level that I had to prove my game at and through two rounds, being in the top 15, I think, really proved that I deserve to be there at some point in my career,” he added.

To accomplish that, he’ll need patience, which means Hadwin will have to quickly get over disappointments such as missing the cut in his last event, the Times Colonist Open in Victoria. That necessary patience will be amplified on a U.S. Open setup.

“I’m so competitive and I want to do well every week and I need to kind of step back and understand how long this process will be. I’ve got, probably, another 37 years all the way to the Champions Tour, if I choose to do that. I’m not going to go 37 years without missing a cut,” he said.

“As long as I feel like I’ve learned from the week and can get better the next week, then that’s all that matters,” said Hadwin.

He’s got another step up this week when a good showing at the U.S. Open would do wonders for the confidence as he guns to be a regular at that major and on the PGA Tour.


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