The Open Championship will be a learning experience for Adam Hadwin. Actually, that might be understating things just a bit. The Abbotsford, B.C., product will not just be playing for the Claret Jug for the first time, he’ll also be getting his first experience with links golf.

In fact, to go a step further, this trip will mark the first time Hadwin has been to the United Kingdom.

“I’ve never been anywhere on the other side of the Atlantic so it’s going to be a treat for me,” said Hadwin, who departs Friday for his maiden voyage. “I’m going to soak it all in and just sort of enjoy the challenge that links golf brings.”

Aside from driving on the left side of the road, eating fish and chips, and getting used to wearing sweaters in July, Hadwin will also be trying to learn the shots he’ll need to tackle Royal Birkdale.

He knows the game is different and he is looking forward to that opportunity to expand his repertoire of shots, however he also doesn’t want to make wholesale alterations to a swing that’s led him to a solid season thus far on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve played Cabot and some American links-style courses,” he stated. “I know the idea is to keep the ball low and run it up but with that said, I obviously don’t want to stray too far from my strengths and I think more than anything, the conditions and weather will dictate a lot of what happens. Certainly I’m going to have to learn a couple of shots when I first get there.”

Hadwin is coming off a two-week break from the PGA Tour during which he headed back to Abbotsford (he makes his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., these days) for some family time as well as to visit his conditioning coach, Jason Glass, and Harry Sese, a golf injury and performance specialist, to ensure he’s physically on the right path.

The 29-year-old had an exceptionally busy first part of the season that included his first win and a round of 59. In 20 tournament starts he’s earned $2.8 million in earnings, climbed as high as 44th in the world ranking (he’s currently 53rd) and is vying for a spot on the International Team for the President’s Cup (he’s 11th, one spot out of automatically qualifying).

He hopes the recent downtime will help recharge his game for what will be another busy stretch as the Tour moves through two majors, the RBC Canadian Open and the FedEx Cup playoffs. Despite missing the cut in two of his last four starts and posting a lackluster tie for 60th at the U.S. Open, Hadwin is still bullish on where he is at this point.

“I think my game is good,” said Hadwin, who joins Austin Connelly as the Canadian contingent in the third major of the season. “I’ve felt pretty good the last six or seven weeks, I just haven’t been able to get the ball in the hole, I haven’t been able to score.

“I think coming off the first few months like I did, I might have been placing expectations on myself that were a little high. I was too concerned with having to be perfect on the golf course.”

As Dr. Bob Rotella, a sports psychologist who works with a number of golfers, once wrote, golf is not a game of perfect. And that may be exceptionally true at the Open Championship where weather and the bumps and rolls of the course can lead to both good and bad breaks. How players roll with those is often a determining factor in who becomes the champion golfer of the year. Hadwin is well aware of that and plans to head to Royal Birkdale with a positive outlook.

“I’m going to go in there with an upbeat attitude, have fun and enjoy the atmosphere,” he stated. “I really want to enjoy the experience over there, especially with it being my first time. Kind of the same way I treated the Masters. If I happen to play some decent golf, all the better.”

SOURCE: http://www.tsn.ca/talent/hadwin-upbeat-ahead-of-first-open-start-1.803840