Adam Hadwin won’t be going on his scheduled honeymoon in two weeks, thanks to what happened on Sunday at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa.
That’s because Hadwin broke through for his first PGA Tour win in the Valspar Championship, beating Patrick Cantlay by a shot with a par on the final hole on the Copperhead Course. In the process, Hadwin earned a trip to his first Masters which, with some deference to his fiance Jessica, takes some precedence over their scheduled post-nuptial vacation.
“I’m just hoping I get my deposit back,” Hadwin said after the round, drawing laughter. “You laugh like I’m joking; I’m serious here. I understand I won a nice check this week ($1.134 million), but I don’t like to throw money away
Hadwin carried a four-shot lead into the final round at Innisbrook, and it appeared as though it might be another Sunday cruise toward victory on the PGA Tour. However, Hadwin was challenged out of the gate by a resurgent Patrick Cantlay, who played alongside Hadwin in the final pairing. Cantlay, who hadn’t played competitively in 2015 or ’16 as he recovered from a fracture in one of his vertebrae, was making his second start of his comeback, needing a solo second-place finish to fulfill a major medical extension and retain his PGA Tour playing privileges. The UCLA stud, however, seemed intent on gaining much more on Sunday.
Cantlay had drained most everything he looked at on the greens on Sunday, and that got him just two strokes on Hadwin heading into the 16th hole, the start of the so-called Snake Pit. Hadwin found the water hazard right off the tee, setting up a double-bogey 6. Cantlay played the hole somewhat conservatively, earning a par and tying Hadwin. All square heading to the 72nd hole, Cantlay’s approach shot to the last found a greenside bunker, from which he could not get up-and-down for par. Hadwin went just long with his approach but coaxed down his third shot to 2-and-a-half feet for par. The putt went down and Hadwin had won with a 14-under 270 total.
While Cantlay didn’t get the win, he did complete the major medical extension and has status on the PGA Tour for the rest of the season.
“I’m playing really well. My health is good. I feel good,” Cantlay said, not taking much immediate consolation in the loss. “And you know, that’s what I love doing out there. So as many times as I can put myself in that situation today.”
Hadwin talked about learning from failures in the past, feeling better about his game when the opportunity comes again. This time, even though he almost gave it away, he figured out how to get the job done.
“I think in prior years it would have been a lot more difficult to get over,” he said. “I’d feel like I kind of threw it away right then and there, and might have been a lot harder to bounce back from.
“I’ve learned a lot these last few years, I really have.”