Valspar Championship 2017
Round 4 - Adam Hadwin claims first PGA Tour winMarch 13, 2017
Adam Hadwin is skipping his first World Golf Championship and asking for a refund for his honeymoon to Tahiti.
He couldn't be happier.
Seven weeks after he shot a 59, and two weeks before his wedding, Hadwin added another eventful chapter to his amazing year.
He threw away a two-shot lead with three holes to play by hitting a tee shot into the water, kept his wits and then closed with two strong pars for an even-par 71 to win the Valspar Championship by one shot over Patrick Cantlay for his first PGA Tour title Sunday.
''You're never quite sure when you're going to get the job done,'' Hadwin said. ''I just went there today and stuck to what I do best, just hit some quality golf shots and really made the game super easy outside of hole No. 16. I feel a little fortunate after that hole to be sitting here, but I'll certainly take it, and I can't wait for everything that comes with this win.''
The victory moves him to No. 51 in the world and makes him eligible for the Dell Match Play - except that he's getting married that week.
It also sends the 29-year-old Canadian to the Masters, meaning he will have to postpone that honeymoon to French Polynesia. Instead, he'll be preparing for Augusta National, the place he called the ''greenest place on earth.''
Even with a four-shot lead going into the final round, all he wanted was a chance over the final few holes.
The trick Sunday was reminding himself he was right where he wanted to be.
Hadwin twice holed big birdie putts on the back nine at Innisbrook as Cantlay was in close for birdies of his own, a 25-footer on the par-5 11th and then a 55-footer on the par-3 13th to keep a two-shot lead.
But it all changed on the 16th, the start of a tough three-hole finish at the Copperhead Course. His 3-wood peeled off to the right and never had a chance, and Hadwin walked off the hole with a double bogey and a tie for the lead
From the 18th fairway, Cantlay blinked first.
The former No. 1 amateur in the world, playing for only the second time after missing two years with a back injury, leaked his approach into a bunker. Hadwin's approach went just over the back against the collar of the fringe, leaving him a belly wedge down the grain that came off perfectly and settled 2 feet below the cup.
Cantlay's bunker shot was well short, and he missed the 15-foot par putt to force a playoff.
He was 1 of 6 in sand saves for the week.
The consolation prize for Cantlay was a runner-up finish that paid $680,400, more than enough for him to secure full status for the rest of the year.
''It doesn't really feel like much consolation at the moment,'' Cantlay said. ''I didn't finish the deal.''
Even in loss, it was a bright return for the UCLA star. Cantlay wondered if his back would ever allow him to regain his form. While still in college, he shot 60 at the Travelers Championship in 2011, was low amateur in the U.S. Open and didn't finish out of the top 25 in his four PGA Tour starts that summer.
A stress fracture in his back kept him out of golf for two years. Then, he endured a far greater burden a year ago February when his best friend and caddie, Chris Roth, was struck and killed by a car as they were walking to a restaurant for dinner in California.
He looked like he was never gone. Trailing by four shots with 10 holes to play, he ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch that put enormous pressure on Hadwin.
''I was just trying to catch him,'' Cantlay said. ''And I caught him, and gave it to him in the end.''
Hadwin is the third Canadian to qualify for the Masters, joining RSM Classic winner Mackenzie Hughes and 2003 champion Mike Weir.
He finished at 14-under 270.
Jim Herman (68) and PGA Tour rookie Dominic Bozzelli (67) tied for third, two strokes behind Hadwin.
Tony Finau closed with a 64 to finish alone in fifth, though that likely will narrowly keep him out of the Dell Match Play in two weeks. Finau only moves to No. 70 in the world, and as many as five players are likely to withdraw.
Jason Dufner birdied his last two holes for a 67 to tie for 11th and qualify for Match Play.
Hadwin's fiancee, Jessica Kippenberger, made the wedding date for March 24 because that's when the venue was available. Hadwin checked the schedule and figured it worked out beautifully.
''I looked at it as, 'Hey, we picked the week of Puerto Rico,' not we picked it the week of the WGC,'' he said with a laugh.
The honeymoon deposit was only for the hotel. He booked refundable airline tickets with the Masters in mind.
Round 3 - Adam Hadwin stretches lead to fourMarch 12, 2017
Adam Hadwin only wants a chance to win when he tees it up on the PGA Tour, and he's never had a chance like this one.
Birdie putts from 35 feet and 55 feet on the back nine Saturday at the Valspar Championship stretched his lead to four shots. Equally important to him was the slick, bending 6-foot par putt on the final hole.
''Three shots is much easier to come back from than four shots is,'' Hadwin said after a clean card of 4-under 67. ''That extra shot could be everything tomorrow. That was a big putt for me, I think, mentally going into tomorrow.''
The 29-year-old Canadian overcame a brief bout of nerves on the practice range with a flawless day in a strong, warm breeze on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook. That 6-foot par putt made it 31 straight holes without a bogey, put him at 14-under 199 and gave him the four-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay.
It was the third time in the last four PGA Tour events the 54-hole leader was up by at least four shots, and all of them won comfortably - Jordan Spieth at Pebble Beach, Dustin Johnson at Riviera and Rickie Fowler at PGA National.
More than a big lead, there is not a lot of experience chasing the Canadian. Of the three players within six shots of him, only Jim Herman has experienced winning on the PGA Tour. Herman won the Shell Houston Open last year for his first victory. He had a 71 playing in the final group and fell five shots behind.
PGA Tour rookie Dominic Bozzelli had a 70 and was at 8-under 205.
Hadwin also had a 54-hole lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge when he shot 59 in the third round. He closed with a 70 and was runner-up to Hudson Swafford. He started that final round with a one-shot lead over Bozzelli.
Four shots is a lot bigger than one, though Hadwin said it could work both ways. He knows enough about Innisbrook to realize it can disappear quickly.
''But the other side of things is that guys are going to have to shot a good score to catch you,'' he said. ''To go bogey-free today, I mean, I'd love to do that again tomorrow. I think somebody would have to play an extremely good round of golf to catch me. Make some pars and make guys come and get you.''
British Open champion Henrik Stenson never made a move and struggled again getting his distance right in the wind, allowing for only a few reasonable birdie chances. He had another 71 and was seven shots behind, along with J.J. Henry (67).
For Hadwin, life has never been better.
It was at Innisbrook a year ago that he broke his 7-iron against a tree in anger, a starting point to learn how to smile more and worry less about golf, which he believes has led to better scores.
Plus, he's getting married in two weeks.
A victory, perhaps even second place alone, might be enough to get Hadwin into the Dell Match Play. He won't be going either way because his wedding is Friday (March 26) of that week.
A victory would get him into the Masters. In that case, the honeymoon might be postponed.
For now, he's only thinking about playing good golf on Sunday and forcing everyone to catch him on the toughest track in Florida (that doesn't convert par 5s into par 4s).
Equally compelling is the guy Hadwin will see on the first tee Sunday.
Cantlay was the No. 1 amateur at UCLA who swept all the big awards as a sophomore, and then shot 60 in the Travelers Championship the week after he was low amateur in the U.S. Open at Congressional. He played four PGA Tour events in summer of 2011 and never finished out of the top 25.
But at Colonial in 2013 as a rookie, he felt back pain. Doctors eventually diagnosed it as a stress fracture, and it took two years for him to feel healthy again. Turns out that wasn't his biggest setback. He was walking to dinner with Chris Roth, his best friend and his caddie, a year ago February when Roth was struck and killed by a car.
From such a dark period, Cantlay managed to get his head, his back and his game in shape.
He says he is the same person who had such big expectations as an amateur.
''A few more low, highs and lows,'' Cantlay said. ''Gave me a little different perspective. At the time things were rolling so good all the time, I guess I didn't think they could go any other way. But life hit me in the face pretty quick. So it's really nice to be here playing, feeling good, and playing well.''
Round 2 - Adam Hadwin edges aheadMarch 11, 2017
Adam Hadwin knows all about going low on the PGA Tour. Still to be determined is whether that translates into a victory.
Hadwin, who shot a 59 at the CareerBuilder Challenge two months ago, ran off five straight birdies to start the back nine Friday at the Valspar Championship and posted a 7-under 64 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend.
Even playing in the afternoon in a strong breeze and crustier putting surfaces, the Canadian one-putted every hole on the back nine until he had no choice but to lag a 20-foot birdie attempt on the 18th hole to make sure it didn't race all the way off the green and into the fairway.
He shot 29 on the back and reached the halfway point at Innisbrook at 10-under 132, one shot clear of Jim Herman.
''You can't go out and shoot 7 under on the Copperhead Course without doing everything right,'' Hadwin said. ''I put myself in position off the tee box, hit a ton of fairways then just really hit the irons solidly today. ... And here I am going into the weekend.''
And he still has a long way to go.
Herman, coming off a 62 in the opening round, began with 11 straight pars before trading birdies and bogeys and settling for a 71.
Tyrone Van Aswegen had a 65 and was two shots behind, followed by a group at 7-under 135 that included British Open champion Henrik Stenson (71), Russell Henley (71) and Dominic Bozzelli (68).
Stenson opened with a birdie to get within one shot of the lead, but he didn't make another one until holing a 30-foot putt on the 15th. He was fooled at times by the wind, which kept him from more reasonable birdie chances. Still, the 40-year-old Swede felt his iron play getting better, and he got one bonus that had nothing to do with golf. Walking down the second fairway, 2-year-old daughter Alice saw her dad and ran out to greet him.
''She doesn't know how to stay outside the ropes, that's for sure,'' Stenson said with a smile. ''She comes running in when she sees me. That was good.''
Stenson is No. 6 in the world, the highest-ranked player at Innisbrook. The Valspar Championship will be missing its other top 10 player because Justin Thomas, who swept the Hawaii swing, had a 74 and missed the cut.
Also missing the cut was Billy Horschel, leaving him no chance of qualifying for the Dell Match Play in two weeks. Horschel, who won the FedEx Cup in 2014 and reached as high as No. 12 in the world two years ago, has not been eligible for the last four World Golf Championships.
Hadwin could make his way into Match Play with a runner-up finish, though now it's all about winning.
He became the ninth player with a sub-60 rounds on the PGA Tour in the California desert, only to finish one shot behind Hudson Swafford. A week later, he was in the final group Saturday at Torrey Pines until fading to a 74-76 weekend.
''I've put myself in position the last couple of years,'' Hadwin said. ''I feel like the finishes have gotten stronger, and I keep kind of putting myself there going into the weekends. Just getting more comfortable out there. Learnings how I feel under pressure, and figuring out how to deal with that. I'm excited for this weekend, what it will bring, and hope to keep some of these scores coming.''
PGA Tour rookie Wesley Bryan, best known for his trick shots that made him a YouTube golf sensation before earning a tour card, had another 68 and was only four shots behind. Bryan tied for fourth in his last two starts at the Genesis Open and Honda Classic.
He would need to finish seventh to have any chance of making the 64-man field for the Match Play in two weeks.
Also at stake this weekend is a spot in the Masters for the winner. Only three players from the top 12 going into the weekend - Stenson, Swafford and James Hahn - already are eligible for the Masters.
A year ago, Herman earned his first trip to Augusta National by winning the week before the Masters at the Shell Houston Open. He'd like to take care of that sooner, and playing in the last group Saturday gives him hope.
He wasn't stressed by following a 62 with a 71, mainly because the conditions were tougher in the afternoon. Herman also knows a 71 isn't going to hurt him.
''Any time you make par, it's not like you're backing up,'' Herman said.
Round 1 - Jim Herman leads by twoMarch 10, 2017
Jim Herman equaled his career-best round by shooting a bogey-free nine-under 62 in the opening round of the fog-delayed PGA Tour's Valspar Championship.
The 39-year-old Herman has a two-stroke lead over Russell Henley and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who both shot 64. Henley finished at seven-under despite opening with a bogey on his first hole.
The round was suspended due to darkness with several players still on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort. They will finish the first round early Friday before second-round play begins.
Herman came within one shot of the course record with nine birdies, just missing a 61 shot in 2012 by Padraig Harrington.
James Hahn was alone in fourth, and Seamus Power of Ireland was by himself in fifth after a 66.
Tony Finau, Keegan Bradley, Charles Howell and Webb Simpson share sixth place at 67. Bryson DeChambeau was also four under through 15 holes.
Herman, who won for the first time last year at the Shell Houston Open, decided to play the event at the last minute. He's happy he did.
"That was a fun round," said Herman. "I don't think there's many feelings better than shooting in the low 60s on the PGA Tour."
Stenson had been off to a good start in 2017, tying for eighth in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Champions and tying for second in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour. He also tied for second in the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October.
Stenson's bogey-free round included just 26 putts. The big Swede hit 12 of 13 fairways.
"When the putter feels good and short game is in good shape, a lot of times I see it more as guaranteeing having a second shot into around the green or hit the green, even if it's a longer club," Stenson said. "That's kind of what I've done around here the previous two times, and it's worked out fine."
Henley responded after his opening bogey with birdies on eight of the next 11 holes.
"I feel like I'm seeing the break well here," Henley said. "The greens are running really true, and what I'm seeing, that's what the ball is doing. I got more and more confident as the day went on."
|T14||USA||J. T. Poston||-5||-||-||70||69||71||210|
|T22||USA||J. J. Henry||-3||-||72||67||67||75||281|
|T27||RSA||Tyrone van Aswegen||-2||-||-||65||75||73||213|
|T49||USA||Charles Howell III||1||-||67||71||73||74||285|
|CUT||USA||Billy Hurley III||1||-||71||72||-||-||143|
|CUT||USA||Harold Varner III||3||-||77||68||-||-||145|
|CUT||TPE||Cheng Tsung Pan||5||-||73||74||-||-||147|
|CUT||KOR||K. J. Choi||5||-||73||74||-||-||147|
|CUT||USA||J. J. Spaun||6||-||72||76||-||-||148|