Satisfying Endings

Canadian Adam Hadwin didn’t win the RBC Canadian Open Sunday. But he looked good trying and probably proved a lot to himself in the process.

With the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, he set off on the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and fell flat on his face. He bogeyed the 1st hole…and then the 6th…and doubled the par 3 8th with a 4-putt. Okay, not totally unexpected given the pressure on him.

But once his worst fears were out of the way and a new nine was beginning, he could buckle down and get it going. And then he bogeyed the 11th. Maybe that was the slap in his face that he needed because then he birdied 12, 13 and 14 to put himself right back in the thick of things. On a really good golf course with small greens and a very tough setup, the leaders were coming back to him.

Although he got within one shot, he couldn’t manage a birdie the rest of the way in and ended up tied for 4th. But it was an heroic effort and he charmed his countrymen into roaring their support when he began his charge. And he proved that he could play in the final group on Sunday and do well. He also finished as the low Canadian for two years in a row. That was big, but it wasn’t as big as the fact that his top 10 finish won him an exemption into next week’s Greenbriar in West Virgina. And almost as important as anything else to a young, mini-tour player, the $228,800 he won will go a long way toward his development as he sets his eyes on the PGA Tour.

The winner was Sean O’Hair in a 1-hole playoff with Kris Blanks. That they both finished at just 4-under for the week is a measure of just how difficult that golf course was.

But after a wearying year, things had become desperately difficult for O’Hair. Having abandoned working with Sean Foley, Tiger’s new coach, to return to his playing roots, getting recalibrated was an abysmal affair: he’d made just 7 of 17 cuts.

…it’s been a tough year up to [missing the cut at the British Open by one shot], missed a lot of cuts by a shot. I’ve worked very, very hard this year, and I’ve had so much support from family and friends, and just to keep me upbeat…

…I tell you what, by the beginning of the week, to be honest with you, when I played my Pro-Am, obviously, it’s a very intimidating golf course and I played horrific. Probably, Wednesday night was my worst point of the whole year. Just kind of I didn’t know how I was going to play this week, and to be sitting here is amazing.

And then, Wednesday night after that terrible round and desperate feelings it generated, he had an epiphany that gave him some peace.

I was doing some reading Wednesday night, and I just had something inside me just told me it’s time to let go and just let everything take care of itself, and I did that.

You know, I’ve been holding on so tight and trying to do it forcefully. Finally I just said, you know what, it’s just time for me to just let go and whatever happens, happens.

Here he notes that there is little difference between trying to force a shot to be good and trying to force yourself to play well. “Allowing” works much better than “forcing.” And his answer struck the curiosity chord of the media; toward the end of his interview, they wanted to know what he read that night.

Yeah, I read James 2 through chapter 1 through 4. It talks about adversity and it talks about when your faith is tested be happy for it because when your faith is tested, your faith grows if you allow it to. When it’s over and when your faith has grown, you’ll be better off as a person and your faith will be stronger.

So I don’t know word for word, but basically that’s what it was. Actually, I read it the last two days, and I just kept saying that to myself. You know, I just — that voice in my head Wednesday night just said, “Let go and let God,” and it’s really just that simple. Here we are.

So beyond all of the worldly things we think of when we are working on improving our games, playing, practice, instruction and tournaments, lies a domain that taps into not only our own powers, but our faith in God’s hand.

For Kris Blanks, the Canadian provided an opportunity to play in the last group and play great right through the end of regulation. (Both he and O’Hair hit nervous slow-hook tee shots in the playoff, but O’Hair did a better job of cleaning up his mess.) So he knows now what he’s capable of when he’s in the spotlight. The other nice thing for him is that his second place winnings of $562,000 bumped him over $1 million in earnings for the year and he’s locked up his card for next year. Plus his good play no doubt made his wife especially proud: she’s a native of Vancouver.

For Andres Romero, the forgotten man on Saturday night, he proved his tenaciousness to himself and to us. He made a mess of the front nine, but like Hadwin, he redeemed himself on the back: he furiously birdied five of his first seven holes. But he drove it in the rough on 18 and bogeyed his way out of a spot in the playoff. But finishing 3rd by himself is his highest finish this year and his $354,000 locked up his card for next year too.

There were three other good stories coming out of Sunday’s conclusion. Ever so slowly redeeming his career, John Daly managed a T9 that gets him into the Greenbriar. He was tied with the amazing UCLA sophomore, Patrick Cantlay, who is having the summer of his dreams. He now gets to choose between the Greenbriar and playing in the Western Amateur which he’d previously committed to.

And finally, newly minted tour player, Bud Cauley turned pro for the U.S. Open. With his T13 and the $105,000 to go with the other $214,000 he’s made so far, he’s doing a great job of convincing himself that he has the goods to play at the highest level. Another guy having a dream summer.

Life can be so grand.

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