Notes: Hadley shines; Smith finds support; more

Chesson Hadley during the 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

Chesson Hadley during the 2013 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.

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You’ve got to love the fresh faces when they come out on Tour and how their excitable ways lead to fun comments. Chesson Hadley, for example, was making birdies everywhere at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, except for the par-4 third, where he was 4-over for the first three days.

He used the expression “doo-doo” to describe how he had played the hole. It was worth a few laughs.

But give the young man credit, his game is nothing to laugh about. Tall and lanky, he hits it hard and he hits it long – and just two tournaments into his career, Hadley has gotten a good dose of playing in the fire. Paired with childhood friend Webb Simpson in the final round out in Las Vegas, Hadley was in position to make a run, yet two early bogeys took him out of contention.

Still, he carried onto the golf course an attitude that he needed to keep things in perspective. “If we’re starting to puke on ourselves out here, it’s no fun,” he said. “But you’ve got to find a way to enjoy yourself.”

What Hadley thought a lot of was Carol Paton, the wife of his swing coach, Jeff Paton from the Golf Club of Georgia, and her battle for nearly three years with cancer. “It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind,” he said. “It doesn’t weigh on me, but I think about them and how they have the absolute best attitude about this cancer.”

Throw in the fact that Hadley’s wife, Amanda, is due to deliver the couple’s first child Nov. 2 and here he is “trying to figure out this PGA Tour lifestyle,” and, well, he’s one busy young man these days.

“So for me to go out here and have a bad attitude . . . what is that going to help anybody?”

While he has sorted through all of this, Hadley has been able to get off to a nice start in his PGA Tour career – $222,350 in just two tournaments.

• • •

SMITH FINDS ACE OF A FRIEND: As he has tried to piece his life back together and restore his golf game, Chris Smith has had a valuable soulmate in Chris Carpenter, the onetime ace of the St. Louis Cardinals. A lifelong Cardinals fan, Smith befriended Carpenter more than 10 years ago and they’ve shared a lot of golf together.

“He’s been able to help me in so many ways,” Smith said. “Especially the last five.”

In June of 2009, Smith’s wife was killed in a car crash. Understandably, Smith’s PGA Tour career was pretty much put on hold at that time and it’s been a slow and deliberate process since then. Carpenter, the 2005 National League Cy Young Award winner and a dominant post-season force, can commiserate to some degree, because he’s had to try and put things together a few times after suffering thoracic outlet syndrome in his right arm.

Having sat out the entire 2013 season, it appears as if Carpenter’s career could be over at the age of 38 and that’s always a difficult reality to face.

“I think I’ve been able to him help a little bit,” Smith said.

When Smith re-married two years ago, he and his wife, Trish, chose to do so at Wrigley Field before the start of a Cardinals-Cubs game. And, yes, Carpenter pitched that day.

• • •

PINS, TAKE NOTE: Nothing like a little roll in Vegas, eh, Troy Matteson? He offered a wide smile and said the seven straight birdies he made in the fourth round could have been better.

His third shot into the par-5 16th looked like it was going to stop stiff, but it hit the flagstick and caromed wide.

“Sometimes when you’re laying good you almost wish the pins weren’t in the holes,” he said.

Matteson closed with a 64 and a share of fifth.

• • •

TO Q, OR NOT TO Q: There’s still a lot of discussion about this Web.com Tour Finals system that was put into play to determine who got cards for the 2013-14 season.

“Guys are mad at me,” said Will MacKenzie, though he didn’t mean personally. Instead, MacKenzie said he represents what could be considered a flaw of the new system. He was 40th on the regular-season money list, but in the four-tournament finale played well and came out of the process seventh.

Give him credit, MacKenzie has thus far taken advantage of his return to the PGA Tour. With a share of ninth (Frys) and joint 15th (Shriners) he has piled up $222,150.

While he agrees the system needs tweaking, “I like the concept. It gets the best players out here on Tour for the next year.”

But on the other hand, “the old Q School was probably more riveting – if there’s such a thing as golf being riveting.”

• • •

MIXED NEWS FOR ISHIKAWA: A closing bogey cost Ryo Ishikawa solo second at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, yet it provided him with his largest check in 69 PGA Tour tournaments.

Sharing second with Jason Bohn was worth $528,000 surpassing the $378,000 he earned for second place at the 2012 Puerto Rico Open.

With a T-21 at the Frys.com Open the week before, Ishikawa has already earned more money in two starts ($580,000) than he earned in 23 tournaments ($424,541) a year ago.

• • •

KIM VS. KIM: That was Hyung-Tae Kim finishing tied for second at the Kolon Korea Open. Not to be confused with Kyung-Tae Kim, of course, who was finishing joint third at the Japan Open.

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