PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Adam Hadwin used to be a poor loser, and it’s tough being a poor loser on the PGA Tour where there are usually more than 150 losers and one winner each week. Hadwin has never been a winner on Tour, but thanks to an attitude adjustment and help from his fiancée, Jessica, he’s in position to change that entering the final round of the Valspar Championship Sunday at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course.
Hadwin shot 4-under 67 during Saturday’s third round to open a four-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay, a significant margin at Copperhead, which doesn’t easily surrender birdies and is more likely to elicit flashes of anger. Or claim golf clubs.
“Last year I broke a 7-iron here on the second hole,” Hadwin said after Saturday’s round. “So I’ve improved. No broken clubs.”
It’s hard to believe that now because Hadwin just seems so chill. He’s always smiling, he seems to regard reporters’ questions as friendly inquiries rather than dreaded obligations and he said that finishing one shot behind winner Hudson Swafford at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January wasn’t disappointing because he “got beat fair and square.”
A two-time winner on the Web.com Tour, Hadwin met Jessica while playing a Web.com event in Wichita, Kan., a few years ago. He was laughing when he talked about breaking the 7-iron last year at this event, something Jessica witnessed. But he clearly believes the attitude was holding him back in a big way.
“It’s not something I’m proud of,” Hadwin said. “It’s something I’ve dealt with my whole life. It’s not just golf. I’ve dealt with this through soccer, through baseball, through basketball, when I played. Every sport I’ve played, I’ve had my issues being too competitive and wanting to win too much. … The biggest reason I’m sitting here today and playing so well the last three or four months is really learning that, really figuring that out and understanding that has a huge impact on how I play. It’s certainly taken my game to another level, understanding it’s just golf at the end of the day. It’s not life and death.”
Such matters become apparent to some people when words like ‘marriage’ become real. The wedding date is set in stone for March 24, 13 days before the start of the Masters. That means a planned honeymoon to French Polynesia will have to wait if Hadwin can capture his first PGA Tour victory Sunday and seal his spot in the year’s first major.
“The wedding will happen, but we’ll take a few days to get prepared for the greenest place on earth, Augusta, if all goes well tomorrow,” Hadwin said.
He seemed pretty chill about the whole thing.