Home Boy

Something really exceptional could happen at the RBC Canadian Open today: a Canadian could win.

It’s exceptional because nobody’s done it since Pat Fletcher managed it back in 1954. Just to do the math for you, that was 57 years ago. Two generations ago. A golden wedding anniversary plus 7. A long time ago.

And yet 23-year-old, Adam Hadwin, in 2nd by himself, is on the brink of making his country proud. A two-time winner on the Canadian Tour, he is just one stroke back of leader, Bo Van Pelt.

Van Pelt came out of Oklahoma State as a 1st Team All American and promptly won his Tour card for 1999. But he made nothing that first year and spent a four-year apprenticeship on the Nationwide Tour learning how to play. But once he got there, he’s had a very nice career, culminating with an exceptional $3.3 million last year. It’s been a long gestation period for Van Pelt, but he’s an established player now. He shot the low round of the day, 65, with a 29 on the back side of Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Hadwin is at the other end of the spectrum. He received an All-American honorable mention playing at the University of Louisville in 2008-2009. He won on the Gateway mini-tour and played on the South African Sunshine Tour at the beginning of this year. He got himself into the broadcast booth after his round Saturday and talked about how he was going through the apprentice process, Nationwide Tour next year and PGA Tour from there. And there was patience in his voice.

But he’s no accident that’s never going to happen. He found out in the media room afterward that veteran Tour player Scott McCarron, was videoing his swing on the range before he had any idea who he was.

Hadwin and his caddie have a simple formula:

Yeah, the whole objective today with the caddie was to put myself in a position to win tomorrow. You know, it’s been a very simple process this whole week, and that’s just picking a target, picking a yardage and committing to it, and that’s it.

You know, this golf course is so difficult once you get off line that you just can’t play from the trees and from the rough. You know, that was our focus going into today. Obviously, getting off to a start like I did, birdieing the first, the third, and the fourth made it very easy.

You know, it settled the nerves quickly knowing that I already had a three-shot cushion, basically. Actually on the first tee Brett told me, he goes, “you know you’re on the second page of the leaderboard. You know that, right?” And I said, “let’s make birdie and change that.” So we birdied the first, and moved up to the first page.

But just a good solid round. Hit a lot of good shots. Picked my targets appropriately. When I got in trouble, I didn’t try to do anything stupid and then made some putts. The putter’s been feeling good all week. We’ve committed to good lines. It’s been a fantastic week so far. Just got to do the same thing tomorrow…

…My caddie has been awesome. He’s a huge reason why I put together the round I did today. He keeps me in the present.

And he’s right, this is a nasty golf course. A great golf course worthy of a national championship, but the committee has set it up extremely difficult with 5-inch rough that routinely goes right to the edge of the fairway. Poor Chad Campbell missed four fairways by mere feet on the back and ballooned himself out of the tournament with a 40. Again, Van Pelt had an otherworldly 29. And Mike Weir had to withdraw because he reinjured his wrist playing out of that rough. 

Van Pelt himself will have something to say about who wins Sunday. He should win. And he knows he should win. And that goes a long way, particularly after what he did on Saturday.

But Hadwin thinks he can win and he’s got a routine and good caddie to help him do it. That’s why they play the game. It should be very compelling to watch.

Playing with the two of them will be Andres Romero trying to add to his 2008 victory in New Orleans.

And in the group right behind the three of them sits John Daly just 3 shots out of the lead. His third round 67 looked pretty good and if he can just get beyond his, “life isn’t fair to me,” mentality, he could have a long sought after good week.

Another good story is Bud Cauley. He turned pro for the U.S. Open and has made $214,000 in the three tournaments he’s played in. Dreamlike. He’s probably not a threat at 4 back, but it’s a nice story to follow while the marquee group moves through the day.

And still-an-amateur Patrick Cantlay continues his dreamlike summer. The UCLA sophomore has T21, T24 and T20 in his three tournaments and sits T17 going into Sunday. Another nice story to follow. Where are these kids coming from? Since when does a college sophomore finish in the money–if he could take it–in three PGA Tour events in a row?

You gotta watch.

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