Adam Hadwin Grinds Way To Weekend At Waste Management Phoenix Open, Rickie Fowler Leads By 1 After Round 2

Abbotsford's Adam Hadwin Produced A Fine Comeback To Make It To The Weekend At The 2019 Waste Management Open - File Photo

By Alfie Lau

Rickie Fowler closed out the second round of the 2019 Waste Management Open with four consecutive birdies to take a one-stroke lead over roommate Justin Thomas heading into one of the greatest weekends in golf.

Fowler followed up his opening round 64 with a 65, and he made the closing holes look effortless. Reaching the par-5 15th in two, he made a routine two-putt birdie before hitting his approach to the rowdy par-3 16th to just under 11 feet. He made that putt as fans cheered lustily for him and then at 17, he drove the green and another routine two-putt birdie pulled him into a tie for the lead with Thomas.

When Thomas failed to birdie the final hole, Fowler smashed a 344-yard drive, wedged it to under nine feet and made the putt which puts him in the driver’s seat heading into the weekend.

Fowler, at (-13) will play with his roommate for the week, Thomas, who led all the way until reaching the 16th hole. While Fowler was making birdie after birdie, Thomas could only par out, but he’s in a good spot heading into perhaps the best Saturday in golf. Another stroke back is South African Branden Grace, who made an ace at the par-3 7th.

Three years ago, Fowler thought he had this tournament won, but nursing a two-stroke lead into the 17th, he drove the green but had his ball go long into the water. That led to a playoff with Hideki Matsuyama, who dispatched him in four holes and a crying Fowler lamented afterward how much it would have meant to win in front of his grandfather because his grandfather had never seen him win live.

On the Canadian front, the low man in red-and-white is Ontario’s David Hearn, who sits at (-7) after a second-round (-3) 68. Hearn, who Monday qualified into this tournament, hopes to cash a nice cheque and secure future starts on the PGA TOUR with a good result this weekend.

An even better story comes from British Columbia’s hottest golfer right now.

For Vancouver Golf Tour alum Adam Hadwin, it looked bleak as he stood on the tee for his ninth hole during the opening round of the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Opening bogey, triple bogey and bogey, and then bogey on his eighth hole – with three balls in the water, Hadwin showed some of his steely reserve and capacity to grind by proceeding to go (-9) over his next 28 holes and comfortably make the weekend at his now hometown PGA TOUR stop.

Hadwin will need some really low rounds on Saturday and Sunday to move up the leaderboard, but don’t put it past the Abbotsford native who now calls Scottsdale home.

When asked what changed for him after his dreadful start, Hadwin said: “I stopped hitting the water for number 1, that helps. . . I told Joe (Cruz, his caddy) I haven’t played golf like that in a year-and-a-half. No matter what I did, I couldn’t hit a good shot.

“The previous day, I shot 29 in the pro-am. I knew I wasn’t that far off. I just wanted to keep grinding, make some putts and get some momentum in my favour.”

Hadwin never got down on himself, even though it had to be bitterly disappointing to play so poorly in front of so many family and friends. But his relentless positivity came to the fore, and he would make five birdies on Thursday to climb back to (+1) 72 and with a shot of playing the weekend.

“I knew I had a lot of holes left. I still had 28 holes and we knew birdies were out there. You just had to hit some good shots. Fortunately, I did hit it solid and I made some putts.”

Out early on Friday morning, Hadwin opened the day with an eagle on the par-5 3rd hole and followed that up with a birdie at 4. After a bogey on the 6th, Hadwin made the turn at (-1) for the tournament.

A birdie at 13 was negated by a bogey at 14, and after just making a par at the par-5 15th, Hadwin entered the 15,000 seat modern day golf Colosseum. Egged on by the many Canadian fans who shouted Moose Jaw and Abbotsford at him, Hadwin hit the green and left himself just under 26 feet for birdie.

“I wanted to make that putt so bad,” said Hadwin who bowed to the crowd after his putt. “I get such good support and love here. Canadian fans took over the 16th and it was great to have the anthem sung to me. I wanted to make that putt and hear them go crazy.”

And as soon as he made the putt, the celebrations began.

“I saw some beer showers going off in the crowd and next thing I knew, a bottle came out,” said Hadwin, who picked up one of the bottles and mimicked taking a drink out of it before tossing the bottle to a security guard. “Maybe it’s a little aggressive, but I’m glad to get through (16) at 12 o’clock and not 4 o’clock.”

After a disappointing par at 17 after Hadwin drove to within 96 of the hole for eagle, Hadwin launched a 335-yard drive on 18, wedged it to just under seven feet and converted one last birdie. For stats wizards, that would be (-9) for his last 28 holes, which nicely counteracts the (+6) he had for his first 8 holes.

Hadwin played his first two rounds with two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer and the man who vanquished him two weeks ago at the 60th Anniversary Desert Classic, St. Louis native Adam Long.

When asked what it was like playing with Long for the third straight round, Hadwin said: “It’s the same. He’s a nice guy. We chatted a little bit. We’re both out there trying to compete.”

For fans planning to check out Hadwin on the 16th on Saturday, they best plan to get out there early, because fans were lined up at 5 a.m. Friday to get into those premium seats. Just don’t expect to see Hadwin do anything out of the ordinary, like donning a hockey jersey or handing out gifts to fans.

“No plan,” said Hadwin on whether he has anything special for the fans when he plays 16 this weekend. “It’s not really my personality. I don’t want to get too far out of my comfort zone.”

Three Canadians missed the cut of (-1) – Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor and Ontario products Mackenzie Hughes and Blair Hamilton.