The Stanley Cup playoffs ended five days ago, just in time for Canada’s attention to turn to golf and the game’s second major championship of the year. Adam Hadwin, the pride of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, gave his countrymen more reason to pay heed on Thursday by tying a U.S. Open record in the opening round.
Hadwin, 29, reeled off six consecutive birdies in the middle of his afternoon trip around Erin Hills, matching two other players in the championship’s storied history, both of whom managed the feat at Pebble Beach – George Burns (1982) and Andy Dillard (1992). The run helped Hadwin post a round of 4-under-par 68 after he started off with a pair of bogeys in his first four holes. He started Round 2 Friday at 8:02 a.m. CDT.
“I felt like I had been playing pretty well the last three or four weeks, I just hadn’t been able to show the results on the scorecard,” said Hadwin. “It was kind of the same thing the first few holes. I hit some OK shots and next thing you know I’m 2 over pretty quickly. The game’s funny. It can turn like that. Thankfully it turned for the good today.”
Hadwin’s game has certainly been on the upswing in general. He began the 2016-17 PGA Tour season in October at No. 200 in the Official World Golf Ranking, but he has zoomed up the list. He enters the U.S. Open at No. 49, thanks to his first Tour victory in March at the Valspar Championship and five other finishes of 12th or better. His runner-up finish at the CareerBuilder in March included one of only eight rounds of 59 in Tour history.
“Ball-striking is certainly the reason I’ve been playing so well this year,” said Hadwin, who is in his third full season on Tour. “Good putting can only hold you in for so long. You have to start hitting greens, which I’ve done a lot more of this year. I got on a roll with the wedges out there, to be honest.”
Hadwin first made a splash on the professional stage by tying for fourth in the 2011 RBC Canadian Open, two strokes back of winner Sean O’Hair. He knows Canada will be watching as he competes in his third U.S. Open, having tied for 39th at Congressional in 2011 and missed the cut in 2013 at Merion.
“Obviously Canada loves golf, and we get great support wherever we go,” said Hadwin. “I’m proud to represent the red and white wherever I go, especially on the game’s biggest stages.”
Hadwin is a product of Canada’s national program, Golf Canada, which has also produced players such as LPGA Tour star Brooke Henderson, fellow male professionals Nick Taylor, Graham DeLaet and Corey Conners, as well as mid-amateur stalwart Garrett Rank.
“I think they’ve done a great job in the last few years in the development of the younger players,” said Hadwin, who played college golf at Louisville. “Having five or six Canadians on Tour the last two or three years has been huge when there have only been a couple of them in previous years. It’s a great group to be a part of.”
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.