Hadwin captures first TOUR victory
March 12, 2017
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
- Adam Hadwin's win at the Valspar Championship is the first of his PGA TOUR career. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PALM HARBOR, Florida – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the Valspar Championship, where Adam Hadwin outlasted Patrick Cantlay in a thrilling duel that was tied going up par-4 18th hole.
Hadwin made par for an even-par 71 and a 14-under total, and Cantlay bogeyed from the greenside bunker for a 68, ending a tournament that at times felt like a two-man race.
Jim Herman (68) and Dominic Bozzelli (67) tied for third, two back.
For more coverage from the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort, click here for the Daily Wrap-up.
HADWIN OVERCOMES 'SNAKE BITE' FOR MAIDEN VICTORY
Of the testy closing stretch at the Copperhead Course—the Snake Pit—many feel the most dangerous hole is the watery, 475-yard 16th. Hadwin almost drowned his chances for good at the hole when he lost his tee shot into the water and made double-bogey. When Cantlay made par, they were tied for the first time all day, but Cantlay seemed to have all the momentum.
“I told him, ‘Forget about it,’” said Hadwin’s caddie Joe Cruz. “‘All you wanted was a chance and you still have that chance.’ He said, ‘You're right. I can't be mad.’ I think this proves we belong out here. I know he's believed it ever since Palm Springs, and it's cool to pull one out.”
Hadwin went from 15th to fourth in the FedExCup standings, qualified for his first Masters, and became just the second player to win on the PGA TOUR, the Mackenzie Tour—PGA TOUR Canada, and the Web.com Tour. Although he came into the week 98th in the Official World Golf Ranking, the victory moved him up to 51st, making him eligible for the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. (He’ll be getting married and will miss it.)
He almost lost it all with the splash of his errant 3-wood tee shot on 16.
“I was still in the golf tournament,” Hadwin said. “I was tied for the lead with two holes to go.”
Both players made par on 17, and on the walk to the 18th tee Hadwin told caddie Cruz that they were still in better shape than they’d been in at the CareerBuilder Challenge. That was where Hadwin shot a third-round 59 but lost to Hudson Swafford by a shot.
This time there were no such regrets. Cantlay smoked a 3-wood down the 18th fairway, and Hadwin did the same. Then Cantlay made one of his only mistakes, losing his approach shot into the right greenside bunker. Hadwin kept his own approach just left of the pin, his ball rolling up against the back fringe, and with Cantlay unable to get up and down, and Hadwin cozying his bellied-wedge third shot to within a foot, it was over.
“I just went out there today and stuck to what I do best, and just hit some quality golf shots, and really made the game super easy outside of hole No. 16,” Hadwin said. “I feel a little fortunate after that hole to be sitting here with you, but I'll certainly take it and I can't wait for everything that comes with this win.”
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Adam Hadwin rips off a 53-footer for the Shot of the Day
CANTLAY SECURES TOUR STATUS
Jamie Mulligan, swing coach to Patrick Cantlay, Paul Goydos and many others who play out of Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, California, aptly summed up Cantlay’s day when he said afterward, “We’re frowning but smiling.”
On the one hand, Cantlay did not win the tournament. But he won something bigger: the right to play when and where he wants for the rest of 2017. He came into the Valspar on a major-medical extension, which meant he had 10 starts in which to earn 389 FedExCup points or $624,746. His solo second-place finish, which was worth $680,400, satisfied that and makes him fully exempt for the remainder of the 2016-2017 season.
“My game's good, you know,” Cantlay said. “I'm excited to be playing tournament golf and I'm going to try to win the next one.”
“He’s good to go,” Mulligan said. “He’s got a great team around him and we’ll be able to pick his schedule, as opposed to just getting those 10 starts.”
Cantlay, 24, was the No. 1 ranked amateur in 2011. Mulligan laughs when he recalls his young student shooting 60 at that year’s Travelers Championship, because Goydos, asked whether he thought Cantlay should turn pro or stay in school, said, “I think he should get his masters.”
The UCLA product Cantlay turned pro but began to suffer back pain in 2013, commencing an odyssey of missed diagnoses and rehabilitation. Then, in February of 2016, Cantlay’s friend, Chris Roth, was hit by a car and killed in the early-morning hours as they were walking to a restaurant. Cantlay, only a few feet away at the time, held his dying friend in his arms.
Incredibly, Cantlay, a sponsor invite this week, was making just his second PGA TOUR start since November of 2014. There should be plenty more on the horizon, as his professional career looks to be headed in exactly the direction everyone thought it was six years ago.
CALL OF THE DAY
DUFNER IN, FINAU OUT FOR WGC-DELL TECHNOLOGIES MATCH PLAY
At 70th in the Official World Golf Ranking, Jason Dufner came into the Valspar on the outside looking in at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, March 22-26.
Dufner’s birdie-birdie finish gave him a final-round 67 as he tied for 11th place. He moves up to 65th in the rankings, which should be enough to get him into the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play field.
Meanwhile, Tony Finau, who came into the week at 77th in the world, fired the low round of the day with a 7-under 64 to finish solo fifth at the Valspar. Alas, he moved up only to 70th, which probably won’t be high enough to crack the 64-player field in Austin, Texas.
G-MAC TRENDING UPWARD HEADING TO BAY HILL
Orlando resident Graeme McDowell wanted to see his game rounding into form as he heads into his hometown tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard.
McDowell hit 16 of 18 greens and fired a 4-under 67 to tie for 14th. Although his ranking won’t improve enough to get him into the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, McDowell considered the Valspar a success, especially given his early struggles.
“This week was a funny week,” he said. “I was 4 over par after four holes on Thursday, shot 4-over-par for the day, and I was able to rally and make the cut and play well on the weekend on a golf course which continued to get harder.
“It’s only second time playing this event, and I like the golf course a lot,” McDowell added. “It’s important to make cuts sometimes, because a little 67 like today can build momentum and confidence going into a big week like Bay Hill.”
Coming off a T14 at The Honda Classic, McDowell’s performance at the Copperhead Course will move him from 133rd to 108th in the FedExCup standings. And it’s one more step toward getting back into the WGCs and regaining the elite status in the game that he once enjoyed.
“Those tournaments are so self-perpetuating; a 15th or 20th [place finish] gains momentum and World Ranking points,” McDowell said. “The best get better by playing against each other, so you want to be in that circle. When you’re just outside of that, looking in, it’s tough to break in. But I feel like the way I’m playing, if I can be patient with it, I’ll be back in there soon.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Jim Herman’s 68 gave him a T3 for his best finish since his win at the 2016 Shell Houston Open. His family showed up unannounced during the final round. “I was expecting to see them tomorrow in Orlando,” Herman said. “So that was very nice to see them on the 18th hole there. It's good that they could come out. They don't get to see me play. They are usually in day care, the kids are.” … TOUR rookie Dominic Bozzelli posted his career-best finish with a T3, his best result since finishing fifth at the CareerBuilder Challenge earlier this season. … Fellow TOUR rookie Wesley Bryan finished T7 for his third consecutive top-10 finish. He jumps to 39th in the latest FedExCup standings. … Charl Schwartzel made a valiant defense of his title, firing weekend scores of 67-68 to finish sixth. … Hadwin’s victory was the 12th on TOUR this season, out of a possible 17, by players in their 20s.
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