When Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin, 29, defeated American Patrick Cantlay on the final hole of the Valspar Championship in Florida on March 12 to win the first PGA Tour title of his career, his life changed forever when the winning putt fell into the cup.
All of a sudden instead of going on his honeymoon to Tahiti the last weekend in March, he and fiancée Jessica Kippenberger found themselves wondering if Augusta National has a Honeymoon Cabin, because they are going to the 2017 Masters in Augusta, Georgia on April 6-9.
Besides winning an exemption into The Masters, Hadwin also won entries into the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Jack Nicklaus Memorial, the TPC and the PGA Championship, the season’s last major.
Although his win over Cantlay technically qualified as a wire-to-wire victory since he was leading after every round all week and never fell out of the lead, it was anything but pretty.
He started the final round ahead by four, which Cantlay cut to two for the final nine. The last three holes on the Copperhead course at Innisbrook are called “The Snake Pit” and Hadwin got bitten with his tee shot on #16, a tight par four with a small fairway and a big lake.
“I just hit probably the worst shot of the tournament at the most inopportune time. As soon as I hit it I knew it was in the water,” he said in a press room interview after his win.
“At that point it was just about getting focused. I still had a tournament that I had to go out and try to win and I could have very easily let it all slip away there.”
But he didn’t. After his double on 16, both players parred 17 and went to the 72nd hole of the week tied. Both were in the fairway on 18 but Cantlay hit his approach into a greenside bunker then couldn’t get up and down and made bogey. Hadwin lagged close and had a tap-in par for his life-changing win, becoming the 14th Canadian golfer in history to win on the PGA Tour.
The victory bumped him up from 15th to fourth in the FedEx Standings, seventh on the money list and thus a serious contender in his first Masters.
Here are the favourites among others who have been playing elsewhere in the world on the way to Augusta.
1. Justin Thomas, USA
2. Hideki Matsuyama, JAP
3. Dustin Johnson, USA
4. Adam Hadwin, CAN
5. Jordan Spieth, USA
Of these, Dustin Johnson is the odds-on tourney favourite with two recent wins and his ascent to the world’s #1 ranking, but Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is playing well enough to make history. No Asian male golfer has ever yet won a major. It’s a dubious record that is long overdue to be broken in 2017, if not in Georgia then one of the others later in the season.
Although Hadwin can’t become the first Canadian to win a green jacket – Mike Weir did that in 2003 – he could become the first and only to win on his honeymoon.
Why not? Stranger things have happened In the wonderful world of golf.
Adam Hadwin, 29
Born: Nov. 2, 1987 Moose Jaw, Sask.
Wt: 165 lbs
Two wins, Web.com tour
Two wins, Canadian Tour
Wedding Day: March 24, 2017