At the conclusion of a season in which he had a round of 59, picked up his first PGA Tour win, got married and bought a house, Adam Hadwin is hoping to continue the magic in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty this weekend.
Hadwin has a new challenge in his first Presidents Cup, where the opposition’s 9-1-1 is as obvious as the Manhattan skyline off in the distance from Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
The challenge in 2017 isn’t any easier with Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson among the names in the stacked U.S. lineup that will face the International team that Hadwin made as the final automatic pick.
“Just play good golf,” he said.
“We’ve got the best players in the world on both teams. Obviously they have got a strong team, but we’ve got a strong team, as well. I mean, you’re talking about the best players in the world, guys that play on the PGA Tour consistently, guys that can win every week,” he added.
“It’s just a matter of controlling nerves, going out and coming together as a team and believing in ourselves and making a few more putts than they do,” he said.
In theory, that’s fine, but in team play, there’s a little matter called chemistry on a team from countries as far away as Argentina, India and South Korea. In just a few days, they will need to come together as a cohesive unit.
“It’s been great. You know, I think we’re really coming together as a team, really enjoying each other’s company, enjoying New York City,” said Hadwin.
“It was great to get out and play the golf course finally with some of the other guys and you know, played some alternate-shot and figure out how that might work on the golf course because it’s much different than us going out and teeing it up ourselves,” he said.
“Yeah, certainly makes it a little more difficult but I think sport brings us all together. I think that’s what’s pretty cool about golf, but all sports. We’re playing ping-pong in the team room and we have an arcade game we are racing against each other,” said Hadwin.
“Any little bit of time we can get, maybe just spending some time with somebody we don’t normally spend time with, you know, sit with Hideki (Matsuyama) or (Si Woo Kim) at dinner or Jhon (Vegas) or Emiliano (Grillo), guys that we may not spend a whole lot of time with on the PGA Tour, but we are all part of the same team,” he said.
“Sit with them and their wives and get to know them a little bit better, just sort of recognize we are all on the same team and we are all in it together,” added Hadwin.
How to use that effort to maximum success is the next step. Four years ago, another Canadian, Graham DeLaet, became a sparkplug for the Internationals, working well with Jason Day before taking a singles victory in a dramatic showdown with Spieth.
Captain Nick Price will be looking for similar magic with his players this week in the days leading up to the event.
“We went off in the foursome (Tuesday). I was playing with Jason Day, Marc Leishman and partnered with Anirban Lahiri. Whether that’s an indication of what’s to come on Thursday, Friday, I don’t know, but obviously they put us together for a reason, I’m sure, in these practice rounds,” said Hadwin.
“The captains and the assistants were out there scoping it out and seeing how everything is going … I’ll leave that up to the captains, but any job is to get along with everybody and have fun with everybody and see how our games match up,” he said.
One of those assistant captains is the Canadian who has the most Presidents Cup experience. In five appearances, Mike Weir compiled a 13-9-2 record and is best remembered for his singles victory against Tiger Woods on home turf at Royal Montreal 10 years ago.
Hadwin says Weir’s appointment as assistant captain came about the same time as his first win at the Valspar Championship earlier this year and he made it one of his goals to add to the Canadian content on the International team this year.
“It was very important for me to make this team and give him some Canadian company this week. You know, he’s great. He’s a great guy to lean on. He’s been such a great ambassador for golf in Canada. For me to be able to ask him and kind of go side-by-side with him is great,” said Hadwin, adding that he’s impressed with Liberty National.
“I think it’s great. I think conditions are perfect. You know, greens were quick (Tuesday). It offers up a little bit of everything. You can make a bunch of birdies if you’re hitting it welland with a lot of the run-offs around the greens, you’ve got to be sort of pinpoint with your irons. Otherwise you’ve got some tough up-and-downs,” he said.
New events, new phases of his off-course life, a new home, new accomplishments – experiencing something new is really nothing new for Hadwin this year, so to speak.
Despite the predictions of another U.S. victory in the shadow of one of the most iconic symbols of Americana, Hadwin says he needs to tune that noise out, understand and deal with what’s ahead over the coming weekend.
“It’s such a tough format, you really have to come together as a team. It’s sort of a format where you feel bad for letting your partner down sometimes with a bad shot. I think that can really get a team into trouble when you start feeling like that too many times – just go out there and try and pick each other up. When you try and hit the next shot, just recover and you move on as a team,” said Hadwin.
“You’ll probably have to ask me after I tee it up, assuming I tee it up. I was actually hoping we were going to have a big crowd (Tuesday), so I could kind of sense it and get a feel of what it might be like,” he said.
“We’ll see. Maybe there will be some more people (Wednesday) and I can get an idea. If not, you know, I kind of think back maybe to the first Masters this year. That tee is lined for 30, 40 yards and you can’t really get away with much there. I survived that tee shot, so we’ll see what happens,” he added.
“I’ve begun to try and block out the New York noise. Just trying to sleep at nights, hearing traffic noise. I’m just pretending that’s the gallery in my backswing. It is a very international city, so hopefully we get quite a bit of international support, but I imagine it’s going to be heavily U.S. favoured,” said Hadwin.
“I’m going in with the worst of expectations of what could possibly happen to be prepared and hoping for the best,” he said.