BC's Adam Hadwin Rested After Week Off, Ready For Home Game At Waste Management Phoenix Open

Abbotsford, BC's Adam Hadwin Is Rested And Ready To Tee It Up In A 'Home Game' Of Sorts At The Waste Management Phoenix Open - File Image

By Alfie Lau

When we last saw Adam Hadwin, he was signing autographs in Palm Springs with a smile on his face, even though deep inside, he had to be hurting after coming T2 to unheralded Adam Long at the 60th Anniversary Desert Classic.

Hadwin has spent the last week in his Scottsdale home, finishing his break and now he’s ready to tackle his “home game” of a golf tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Hadwin was part of Wednesday’s Annexus Pro-Am, which utilizes the innovative and effective two-pro tag-team format. For Hadwin, that meant playing the back 9 at TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) course at 9:40 a.m. with amateurs Donn Lux, Chris Lane, Wayne Cheplin and Rick Tigner, and getting to experience the craziness of the 16th hole, which was already in full throat Wednesday morning.

And at 12:19 p.m., just as Hadwin holed out his putt on the 18th hole, he could walk up to the clubhouse, hand over his team to fellow pro Ted Potter Jr. and have the rest of the afternoon to have lunch and work on his game.

Yes, the nine-hole pro-am experience is proving to be a big success for the PGA TOUR, as pro-am rounds near the six-hour mark. A PGA TOUR professional needs some rest before the bullets are live starting Thursday, so it was great for Hadwin to be able to meet and play with some amateurs and then have the afternoon to do some final tinkering before his Thursday afternoon tee time.

In fact, Hadwin was working on his bunker game as Canadians cheered him on Wednesday afternoon. Those minutes of refining a sublime wedge game will surely be more helpful than having to wait interminably on a tee box.

Witness this scene on the 16th and 17th holes on Wednesday afternoon.

Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, along with his back-nine professional Peter Uihlein, entered the 16th hole stadium just before 2 p.m. and promptly waited for about 10 minutes while Brendan Steele’s pro-am team played the hole. Phelps had time to take multiple selfies with adoring fans, all while music blared, people screamed and beer was drunk.

Uihlein, Phelps and the rest of their team hit, putted out and went to the 17th tee box to find Steele’s group just walking off the driveable par 4. More than 30 minutes had passed since, and it would be another 30 minutes before they would finish the 17th hole and head for the final tee box. With a 9:20 tee time, it was more than six hours since CT Pan, the front-nine pro with the Phelps group, had hit the opening drive for the Phelps team. Pan was at the clubhouse just before 3 p.m. holding hands with his wife and dropping his clubs off.

One thing the Waste Management Phoenix Open has done really well is attract a famous group of Pro-Am participants, many with an athletic background. Houston Astros owner Jim Crane brought along his star pitcher Justin Verlander (alas, we have not seen Verlander’s famous wife, model Kate Upton, yet), current Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was with former Cardinal and Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith, while Philadelphia Eagle Golden Tate, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley, former Phoenix Suns point guard Jason Kidd, former Los Angeles Dodgers knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti and current Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo were also hooking, shanking and thinning golf balls at the Stadium Course.

If you wanted entertainers, there was country singer Jake Owen, playing with Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar, while Golf Channel personality and perennial lightning rod Brandel Chamblee was part of Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman’s team.

As for the other big storyline from this week’s tournament, it is NBC commentator Johnny Miller’s final tournament before retirement, with Saturday being his last telecast before his replacement, Paul Azinger, takes the mic on Sunday.

Defending champion Gary Woodland, three-time champion Phil Mickelson and former Arizona State Sun Devil Jon Rahm were all asked about Miller and his final tournament. “He’s been the face of sports or golf broadcasting for a long time,” said Woodland. “You always know with Johnny what you’re going to get, he’s going to be critical and he’s going to be honest, he’s going to say what he thinks.”

“As an announcer, he’s always tried to be up front and present the game of golf in an insightful way for the viewers,” said Mickelson. “I thought he’s done an amazing job for the game of golf.”

“He’s not afraid to speak his mind,” said Rahm. “I would be scared if I was the guy following him because it’s a lot to live up to.”

One interesting footnote to Miller’s final telecast is that there's rain forecast for Saturday in Scottsdale, which would make for a most interesting day since more than 200,000 people attended the Saturday of the 2018 WM Phoenix Open.

Rain would most probably lead to a smaller crowd, many of whom would be dressed differently than if the weather is the standard sunny, warm and hot as it has been all week so far in Scottsdale.