David Hearn: Big changes both on and off the course

David Hearn of Canada watches the flight of his ball from the 6th tee box during the final round. of the PGA Deutsche Bank Championship. Eric Canha/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

Throughout the season, Canadian golf stars Adam HadwinDavid Hearn and Graham DeLaet will check in with to provide readers with candid insights as they compete on the PGA Tour.

Every year has its ups and downs — that’s just life on the PGA Tour.

The highlight this year for myself and my wife Heather has been welcoming a new baby into our home. My son, Hudson, came into our life earlier this spring. We’re thrilled, of course.

On tour, it has been a year of changes and challenges.

I didn’t play well in the Fall Series, which got me behind and when I started on the West Coast earlier this year, my game didn’t match the expectations I had.

READ MORE: David Hearn: Wrapping my head around the wrap-around PGA Tour season

I’ve witnessed a lot of improved results recently, and I come to the Players Championship this week in the middle of a busy time. You can’t play every week — you’ll burn out — but I’m playing seven of eight weeks in the current stretch. When you plan your schedule for the year you try to work it around the big events and the tournaments that are key. For someone like myself, I try to play a little bit more and try to make more time later in the year; I’ll play 27 or 28 events this season. Fortunately, I had a good year in 2016 and I get into a lot of events.

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One of the big changes I made was off the course. Every season has its peaks and valleys, and I decided to start working with a new swing coach,  Jeff Leishman, a Canadian who works out of Florida. I still work with Ralph Bauer, who has helped me for a long time, on short game, but Jeff is working on my swing. It has gone really well. I don’t believe you have to get worse to get better, but it takes time to work in the changes under pressure.

READ MORE: David Hearn: My Olympic experience exceeded my expectations

It is a tricky decision to change swing coaches. I’ve worked with Ralph for eight years and I’ve only had a handful of coaches I’ve dealt with in my entire playing career. Last year, I wasn’t taking advice from anyone and then in the fall I recognized I needed a second set of eyes to assist me. I didn’t want to jump to a new coach right away — you can do a lot of damage if you make a decision on a new swing instructor too quickly and can go down a path of self-doubt and put Band-Aids on swing problems. I wanted to avoid that and stayed patient, looking around to see who I liked on tour. But there’s always a leap of faith in any decision to work with a new teacher. You have to learn to trust the coach and decide when it is working and whether you’re prepared to go all in.

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Jeff lives close to me in Florida and I see him on tour. It makes sense to have a coach you see often — that’s just practical. And then you sit down and talk to them about their view on the game and what they can do for you. Jeff works with some great players — he’s worked with Daniel Berger for a long time — and I have to fit with him as well. It has worked well and I like the progress I’m seeing. And now I’ve started to see more quality shots more consistently. It isn’t there yet, but I’m moving in the right direction. It isn’t where I know it can be, but I have better tournaments ahead.

You never know when you’ll have that breakout week, and I’ve played well at the Players. I’m trying to put my game together so I’m in contention more often—and I think I’m working in that direction.

David Hearn is playing alongside Shaw Golf stars Graham DeLaet and Adam Hadwin at the Players Championship starting Thursday.


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