ADAM HADWIN TAKES THRILLING VALSPAR CHAMPIONSHIP

13 Mar

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Surviving a 16th hole double bogey, Adam Hadwin is a PGA TOUR victor for the first time after he captured the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T by one stroke over Patrick Cantlay on Sunday.

Hadwin had held a 4-shot lead going into the final round and still led by two shots over Cantlay with three holes to play despite the latter’s barrage of five birdies in a six-hole stretch. However, Hadwin’s drive at 16 wandered right into the water for the six that tied things up. After mutual pars at 17, the final pairing went to 18 tied at 14 under.

In a dramatic finish, Cantlay bogeyed after he was unable to get up-and-down from the right greenside bunker while Hadwin was able to make par from the back fringe with a skillful chip.

Hadwin, 29, had enjoyed a string of solid finishes throughout the season including a runner up at the CareerBuilder Challenge and was thrilled to get his first win which will qualify him for his first Masters in three weeks. “This is a fantastic feeling,” he said. “You’re never quite sure when you’re going to get the job done. I just went there today and stuck to what I do best, just hit some quality golf shots and really made the game super easy outside of hole No. 16. I feel a little fortunate after that hole to be sitting here, but I’ll certainly take it, and I can’t wait for everything that comes with this win.”

Hadwin also earned a spot in the upcoming WGC Match Play Championship with the win, but plans to go ahead with his planned wedding to Jessica Kippenberger instead. But a honeymoon to French Polynesia will be postponed to play in Augusta. The couple is looking for their first house, and when they do Valspar has offered to provide them with all the paint they need.

Hadwin is from Canada and he noted a tremendous amount of support from the fans of Tampa Bay. “There were a lot of Canadian flags out there today,” he said. “I’m thrilled to win on this great course, it’s firm and fast and the only reason the scores were relatively low this week was the lack of wind. It’s a fun course to play, with a wide range of shots. I look forward to playing it many times in the future.”

Hadwin’s winning total of 270 was the lowest for a Valspar Championship winner since Gary Woodland shot 269 in 2011. He is the fourth player to win his first PGA TOUR title on the Copperhead, although each of the other three (Carl Pettersson in 2005, Woodland in ’11 and Kevin Streelman in ’13) would win again.

He is the tournament’s eighth international champion (the 10th total time with K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen winning twice) and the first from Canada. A huge fan of baseball in general and the Toronto Blue Jays in particular, he was excited that his prospects were being widely discussed at the baseball team’s spring training base in Dunedin over the weekend. Hadwin is the 14th Canadian to win on the PGA TOUR with good friends Nick Taylor and MacKenzie Hughes having done so recently. The victory was Hadwin’s fifth in PGA TOUR-sponsored events with two on the Mackenzie Tour and two on the Web.com Tour.

COPPERHEAD BITES – The tournament enjoyed its largest crowds with an estimated attendance of 112,000 for the week. Saturday’s activities, including a concert by Toby Keith, resulted in the first sellout in Valspar Championship history…2016 champion Charl Schwartzel conducted a spirited defense of his title, closing with 67-68 on the weekend to finish in 6th place at -9…Tony Finau had the best round of the final day, shooting 7-under 64 and finishing 5th…Lee McCoy last year’s amateur sensation, who could not take his 4th place winnings in 2016, finished 65th and earned $13,167…It was the eighth time in nine tournaments that the Valspar Championship has been decided by one shot or in a playoff. The exception was Kevin Streelman’s two-shot win in 2013.

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