At the start of the golf season, Adam Hadwin was a man humbled by the sport.
Though he’d just turned 27, and in his short time as a pro had almost won the RBC Canadian Open, Hadwin, from Abbotsford, B.C., had come off a year of struggles, where his golf game never measured up to his expectations. He pledged to redouble his efforts and see where his immense abilities took him if he got out of his own way.
This week that work paid off, with Hadwin topping the Web.com Tour money list and becoming one of six Canadians who will play on the PGA Tour next year.
“It has been a great year,” says Hadwin. “I’ve been very consistent. There have been a few missed cuts, but I’ve played the weekend a lot more than I did last year or the year before. And that was one of my goals for the year—to play more. And once you get there anything can happen.”
For Hadwin, it was a dream season, winning twice on the Web.com, including a decisive victory in the Web.com playoffs. With nine Top 10 finishes in the year, Hadwin made $529,792 overall to become the leading money winner on the tour. His success makes him fully exempt on the PGA Tour for the 2014-15 season, which kicks off with the Frys.com Open on Oct. 10.
Hadwin will be joined on the PGA Tour next year by British Columbia natives and Web.com Tour graduates Nick Taylor and Roger Sloan. The three golfers will find themselves playing alongside established Canadians Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, and David Hearn.
Hadwin says he owes a lot of his success to a change in approach. Last year he struggled, making only $76,182 and missing 10 cuts in 21 events. Hadwin decided to alter his mental approach to the game, resulting in more cuts made and he challenged on the weekend more frequently.
“I’ve had quite a few of what I call backdoor finishes, where I finished on the cutline and then snuck into the Top 10,” he says. “When I’ve had my chances at the top of the leaderboard on the weekend I’ve taken advantage of it. It has been a lot more fun and a lot more enjoyable. Playing the golf that I have, it is hard not to enjoy it. I’ve enjoyed everything that goes along with this life a lot more this year. I’ve had more fun on the golf course and let things go a lot easier.”
When he broke through with a tie for fourth at the RBC Canadian Open in 2011, some thought Hadwin had risen too quickly. After all, he’d only been a pro for two years at that point. Hadwin admits when he failed to progress onto the PGA Tour in the years that followed, the lack of forward momentum frustrated him.
Is he more mature now? Hadwin thinks he is and that his newfound maturity accounts for his consistency this year.
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“It can be harder for me to recognize it, but I feel it,” he says. “The steps I took last year — I grew up and matured. And I feel it on the course and it has such a huge impact on my game. I learned through struggling last season. I didn’t change a thing—I just had a different mental approach. I continued to grow and learn and all those experiences I had in the past helped shape who I am. I’ve grown up a lot.”
What’s next? Hadwin will have to elevate his game even further to win on the PGA Tour, something he knows all too well. But there are no holes in his game—he was among the statistical leaders in numerous categories on the Web.Com Tour this year.
But that doesn’t mean Hadwin is prepared to rest on his laurels.
“I like to think I’m realistic about where I’m at and assessing the situation and understanding I can always get better, there are always things to improve on,” he says. “It is a humbling feeling that next year I’m getting to the next level that I’ve been working towards.”
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