After several near-misses, Canadian Adam Hadwin closed the deal for his first Canadian Tour win Sunday at the season-ending Desert Dunes Classic in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., but it didn’t come without drama.
The rookie from Abbotsford, BC held off Richard Lee, another Canadian rising star, on the first playoff hole. Hadwin and Lee both came in with a final-day two-under 70 to finish deadlocked at 19-under 269.
Calgary’s Ryan Yip posted a 71 to miss the playoff by one stroke. Victoria’s Jim Rutledge fired a final-round 68 to grab a share of fourth with Americans Will Strickler and Andres Gonzales.
Hadwin, 22, let a three-shot lead get away Saturday and went into the final round tied for top spot with Yip and Lee.
Hadwin, the low Canadian at the 2010 RBC Canadian Open, finished inside the top 10 five times in just seven Canadian Tour starts prior to this week, including back-to-back runner-up showings.
None of the three co-leaders were able to get anything going early Sunday and the trio made the turn still neck and neck. A birdie on the par four 13th gave Hadwin the lead until a bogey on the 72nd hold forced a playoff.
“I had been making so many of those four and five-footers all day, I knew I was going to be due to miss one,” said Hadwin. “I do have a flair for the dramatic.”
On the first extra hole, Hadwin blocked his tee shot into the right rough and, standing 203 yards from the pin, used a hybrid to get to 10 feet before two-putting for par. Lee, hitting his approach from the middle of the fairway, couldn’t convert a nine-foot par putt to extend the playoff.
“I had come close so many times this year, it’s pretty special to be able to get this one,” Hadwin added.
“I put myself in position again to win this golf tournament and if you can do that enough times, you have to think it is going to happen. It’s said that the first one is the hardest and that certainly proved true for me.”
Next up for both Lee and Hadwin is the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school. For now, Hadwin is going to savour his first triumph.
“I’ve been playing some really solid golf lately, but this should give me even more momentum heading into second stage,” said Hadwin.
“It certainly isn’t going to hurt. To know I can get it done under the pressure should give me a big confidence boost.”
For more on Hadwin, click here.