Fresh Coat - Saturday, March 11
Canadian Adam Hadwin takes a four-shot lead into the final round of the 2017 Valspar Championship presented by BB&T after firing a 4-under-par 67 on Saturday. He stands at 14-under 199, with a four shot lead over sponsor’s exemption Patrick Cantlay whose 66 was the only round of Chick-fil-A Moooving Day better than Hadwin’s. The four-shot advantage for Hadwin is the tournament’s biggest after three rounds since 2002 when K.J. Choi had a five-shot lead. Hadwin’s total of 199 matches Choi’s tournament 54-hole record of 199 that year.
Cantlay, whose promising career has been sidetracked by a back injury compounded with personal tragedy, is one shot ahead of Jim Herman who is at -9. Herman has a pair of 71s after shooting 62 on Thursday.
Hadwin, who has not won a PGA TOUR event, did hold a third-round lead earlier this year at the CareerBuilder Challenge after he shot a third-round 59. In that tournament, he had a one-shot lead over Dominic Bozelli who is also making himself known this week. Bozelli is 4th at -8.
Hadwin will be trying to become the first player to shoot four rounds in the 60s at the Valspar since 2012 when five players accomplished the feat – Sang Moon Bae, Ken Duke, Jeff Overton, Webb Simpson and Kevin Streelman.
Hadwin struggled in his only two previous appearances at the Valspar Championship. Missing the cut last year and finishing last of those that made the cut in 2015. This year, he tries to become the first player since 2012 to shoot four rounds in the 60’s at the Valspar Championship. Now filled with smiles and a relaxed demeanor on the course, he reflected on a different moment in this event in ‘16. “Last year, I broke a 7-iron here on the second hole,” Hadwin recalled after Saturday’s round. “So I’ve improved. I tossed it into a tree. I’ve really learned to calm down and stay patient. Understand that the shot that I’m hitting is not the most important thing in life.”
He attributes his better attitude to his fiancee Jessica, who he’s marrying in two weeks. He’s hoping the planned honeymoon in French Polynesia will have to be delayed if he holds the 4-shot lead and qualifies for The Masters.
As for Herman in third place, “I’m just not putting the ball in the hole like I did on day one,” he says.
The final group of Hadwin and Patrick Cantlay have never won a PGA TOUR event. If either is successful, they would become the fourth player to win on the Copperhead for their first PGA TOUR event, joining Carl Pettersson, Gary Woodland and Kevin Streelman (all of whom have won again since). If Hadwin wins, as a Canadian he would become the eighth foreign golfer to win The Valspar (the 10th total time, golfers representing a total of seven countries).
COPPERHEAD BITES – Charl Schwartzel (T7 at -6) will be trying for the first top ten finish at this event as defending champion since Luke Donald finished T4 as defending champion in 2012. Schwartzel had a 67 on Saturday…Cantlay missed the cut in his only previous start on the Copperhead in 2013…Hadwin, from Abbottsford, BC, went to the University of Louisville. Cantlay went to UCLA where he was the top college golfer in the country in 2011 and shot 60 in the Travelers Championship as an amateur in 2011.
TOURNAMENT NOTES – Fans enjoyed treats from Chick-fil-A on Moooving Day and also treating themselves were David Hearn and Ben Martin who advanced upwards 34 spots with 68s to move from 52nd to 18th place…The Saturday crowd, buoyed by Toby Keith’s evening concert, was so large, the tournament had to cease selling tickets around 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time in Valspar Championship history that a daily sellout was reached…A good supply of tickets still remain for Sunday’s final round.