Canada's Hadwin full of confidence after career-best finish at U.S. Open

Adam Hadwin, of Canada, hits on the 13th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at The Country Club, Friday, June 17, 2022, in Brookline, Mass. (Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

Adam Hadwin’s caddy, Joe Cruz, was quick to say why his bag boss played so well during Thursday’s opening round at the U.S. Open last week. Hadwin shot a 4-under 66 and had the first-round lead. It was a new kind of position for the Canadian, but one that wasn’t so surprising to Cruz.

“The guy,” Cruz said, “is just striping it.”

Although Hadwin couldn’t match his opening-round effort at any other point the rest of the week at The Country Club near Boston, a hearty set of swing changes are paying off in spades. Hadwin notched his career-best major result Sunday — by a wide margin — and now is looking ahead to the rest of the 2022 PGA Tour season with plenty of confidence.

“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of crappy golf for a while that I had to fight through, but these last six months or so have been very eye-opening for me. I’ve played a lot of really good golf,” said Hadwin. “I do think another win is coming at some point.

“It was a great week to contend at a major and we’ll keep moving forward from here.”

Hadwin, of Abbotsford, B.C., finished tied for seventh at the U.S. Open, five shots back of Matt Fitzpatrick’s winning total. He had the first-round lead (his 66 was the second-lowest round of the week) and held on with rounds of 72-70-71 for the balance of the championship.

He earned just over US$515,000 for the week.

Although Hadwin made an unfortunate bogey on the par-4 18th to end his week, it came after two straight birdies on Nos. 16 and 17. It was the second day in a row Hadwin managed to notch two circles on his scorecard late his round to help put the train back on the track.

As impressive as the final result was, Hadwin hung in there with some of the most celebrated names in the game, on a big-time stage, at a tricky golf course.

“That round could have slipped away at any point on the front but just kept my head down and kept moving forward,” said Hadwin. “I’m very proud of the way I ground through this week. I really didn’t have my best stuff at times, didn’t feel comfortable at times, but found a way to get it done.”

Hadwin, who moved to 81st in the Official World Golf Rankings with his finish, was grouped with world No.1 Scottie Scheffler for the final round. Scheffler has won four times already this season, including the Masters, and got off to a blistering start. He birdied four of his opening six holes and was primed to top another major-championship leaderboard.

Scheffler couldn’t keep the momentum going on the back nine and finished 5 under for the week — one back of Fitzpatrick. Hadwin said being on that stage with that kind of player was a great learning experience.

Not that Hadwin is a wide-eyed rookie — he’s a winner on the PGA Tour and is a member, along with Scheffler, of golf’s exclusive ‘59’ club — but his best previous U.S. Open result was a tie for 39th, which came 11 years ago.

“There (were) definitely some nerves in there for sure,” admitted Hadwin. “Playing with the No. 1 player in the world … the guy’s won (four) times already this year and he got off to a tear. You learn from it, but I hung in there all day.

“I made some monster putts and I’ve very proud of the way I continued to battle.”

Hadwin’s swing changes began about a year ago as he changed coaches and began to work with noted swing savant Mark Blackburn. Hadwin took a lengthy break at the end of 2020 as a mental re-set and things finally started to turn in his favour at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2021. That week he finished tied for 18th — his first top-20 result on the PGA Tour in eight months.

Hadwin notched four top-10s last season and has seen even more progress through 2022. His tie for seventh at the U.S. Open was his fifth top-10 effort this season, including three in a row from mid-March to early-April.

He’s Canada’s third-ranked male golfer (Corey Conners is 29th and Mackenzie Hughes is 66th) but he’s got eyes on earning a spot on the Presidents Cup team again this fall and having the opportunity to compete, and contend, in more majors moving forward.

“Every shot is so important,” said Hadwin. “I know finishing high in majors can do great things for other majors. I had to take care of the golf first, and pretty pleased with the way I finished.”

Hughes, the other Canadian to make the cut this week at the U.S. Open, finished tied for 24th.

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