VANCOUVER — It seems the bigger the stage, the better Adam Hadwin performs.
The bright lights of the U.S. Open don’t figure to faze Hadwin, who has made the cut in seven of eight previous PGA Tour and major championship appearances.
One of those made cuts came at the 2011 U.S. Open, where the 25-year-old Abbotsford resident fired a four-under 68 in the final round at Congressional Country Club to finish tied for 39th.
Hadwin hopes to improve upon that when he tees it up Thursday afternoon in his second U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia.
“I have a different feeling going into this week than I did in 2011,” Hadwin said over the phone after his final practice round on Wednesday. “I feel like I belong, I feel like I deserve to be here. At Congressional, I was nervous on the practice range, I was worried about chunking it or thinning it, all those things. I feel like I’m kind of walking around now like I belong and like I can compete with the best players in the world.
“But I will draw upon some of my experiences at Congressional. I birdied three of my last four holes to make the cut there and I played well on Sunday and moved up the leaderboard. And I think I learned some things about handling everything surrounding the event. It can be a lot to handle if it’s your first time playing.”
Now a regular on the Web.com Tour, Hadwin is at a loss to explain why he seems to play better in bigger events. He made just 13 of 25 cuts last year on the Web.com Tour, but still only narrowly missed earning his PGA Tour card. This year, Hadwin has made six of 10 Web.com Tour cuts.
“I have thought about that quite a bit and haven’t come up with a very good answer,” Hadwin said. “It could be that I view it as sort of a one-and-done sort of thing. It’s my opportunity to play well, I don’t get a chance next week so I might as well take advantage now. I have been trying to figure that out.”
But Hadwin certainly won’t mind if that trend continues this week at Merion, a course he said will present a stern test despite the fact it has been softened by recent heavy rain.
“The fairways are soft and they are not taking bounces like I’m sure the USGA wants them too,” he said. “But I think they have done an incredible job getting the course to where it is. One of the officials had the Stimpmeter out on one of the greens we were on today and it was running at just under 13. So that’s obviously very fast. The balls are still holding very well, but I am sure they are looking to firm them up a little bit. . .unfortunately, it looks like they are about to get hit with storms all day tomorrow (Thursday).”
Hadwin, who was a co-medalist at a sectional qualifier, joins Mike Weir, David Hearn, Ryan Yip and Mackenzie Hughes as one of five Canadians in the field this week.
“I think the biggest key for me this week is controlling my emotions and recognizing that it is a long week and that everyone is going to struggle,” he said. “I just have to be patient and stick to my game plan and try to execute it as best I can. And if it doesn’t happen, soak up the experience and enjoy my time out there.”
Hadwin said the variety of holes at Merion is the course’s strength.
“I think it’s a great golf course with a great mix of holes,” he said. “There are long and short holes, good par 3s, challenging par 5s and some shorter par 4s that you can attack. If you put yourself in position you’ve got a good chance for birdie. If you don’t you can make bogey pretty easily.
“The only thing that I am not a huge fan of is there is not much of a graduated rough system here. . .you can miss the fairway by six feet and be laying it up. It’s kind of what the guys were talking about at Shaughnessy in 2011 (at the Canadian Open).”
Of course, all Hadwin did at Shaughnessy that year was tie for fourth place.
CHIP SHOTS: Kelowna’s Samantha Richdale finished second Wednesday at a CN Canadian Women’s Tour event in Cowansville, Que. Richdale, who won the tour’s opening event at Beach Grove in Tsawwassen last month, finished the 36-hole tournament at two-under par. That was three shots behind winner Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont. Richdale earned $6,996. Coquitlam amateur Jisoo Keel tied for seventh place at two-over par.