Hadwin’s 66 leads strong Canadian showing at Farmers

Adam-Hadwin,-of-Canada,-watches-his-tee-shot-on-the-second-hole-of-the-south-course-during-the-first-round-of-the-Farmers-Insurance-Open-golf-tournament-Thursday,-Jan.-26,-2017,-at-Torrey-Pines-Golf-Course-in-San-Diego.-(Gregory-Bull/AP)

Adam Hadwin, of Canada, pictured above. (Gregory Bull/AP)

SAN DIEGO – Mr. 59 had to settle for a 66.

Only Adam Hadwin didn’t look at the sparkling 6-under round that left him one shot out of the Farmers Insurance Open lead as much worse than his attention-grabber last weekend.

“It’s a great start,” Hadwin said Thursday. “I played some incredible golf. … I think I swung it as good today as I have in a long time.”

Given that he was mere days removed from becoming the eighth man to post a sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, that was really saying something.

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It’s a testament to how much more challenging the layout at Torrey Pines South is than The Stadium Course at PGA West, where Hadwin made 13 birdies en route to his 59 last Saturday.

There is a premium placed on accuracy here and the native of Abbotsford, B.C., was pleased with his ability to keep it in the short grass while enjoying the vistas from the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He finished with seven birdies and just one bogey.

“You go from a golf course where you can almost hit it anywhere and it’s basically a putting competition to two golf courses where you’ve got to put the ball in the fairway,” said Hadwin. “And even from there you’ve got to give yourself the right side of the greens to have a good putt at it. I don’t want to say that this is a bomber’s paradise because I’m not the longest guy and I played pretty well today, but you have to put it in the fairway, especially somebody of my length.

“The holes are just too difficult to play out of the rough all day.”

Hadwin finished the opening round one shot behind Justin Rose.

There is a good chance he won’t be the only one putting the maple leaf on the leaderboard this weekend with Brad Fritsch (67), Graham DeLaet (68), Nick Taylor (69) and Mackenzie Hughes (70) all opening with red numbers as well.

It has been a particularly impressive start to 2017 for Hadwin, who opened the season with a career-best second-place finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge last weekend.

Now he’s in position to mount another bid for victory.

“When Hadwin has confidence, it’s really scary actually,” said Fritsch.

The 29-year-old has been there before, contending at the 2011 Canadian Open before even holding a full-time PGA Tour card. He has nine career top-10s on tour and believes he’s learned to minimize his mistakes during rounds.

“I think the biggest thing is I’ve grown up,” said Hadwin. “I continue to grow up each week and continue to mature and get wiser and just be smarter on the golf course.”

His spectacular round last weekend has brought about a little extra notoriety – with spectators around the grounds here repeatedly congratulating him on the 59. He signed plenty of autographs after chatting with reporters, too.

Hadwin has yet to respond to all the congratulatory texts on his phone since hitting golf’s immortal number and is still getting used to the idea that it even happened.

“It’s going to take longer than a couple days,” said Hadwin. “I really wanted to go out and win and kind of cap the 59 off that weekend. I finished one shot short and I played some great golf on Sunday.

“I mean, I think it’s going to take a little bit to sink in but it’s pretty cool, especially when somebody sends me a text saying there’s more people than walked on the moon than shot sub-60.”

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