HALIFAX, NS— Adam Hadwin is standing on the back deck at Ashburn Golf Club having just teed it up with Mike Weir in the inaugural Canada Cup matches against Manny Villegas and Gary Woodland. Hadwin and Weir dropped their match, but Hadwin, from Abbotsford, BC, demonstrated he could play with his PGA Tour peers.
Hadwin is currently playing on the Web.com Tour, the stepping stone to the PGA Tour. He won earlier this year and sits sixth on the tour’s money list. If he maintains his position he’ll find himself on the PGA Tour next season. This week he’s playing in the inaugural Nova Scotia Open, a new Web.com Tour event in Halifax that sees 20 Canadians in the field.
“What people don’t understand is that the guy who wins out here this week, or even misses the cut, could win on the PGA Tour in the next year,” Hadwin says. “The quality of the players is just that good.”
The Web.com Tour hasn’t played in Canada since 2010, when Wayne Gretzky last hosted a celebrity pro-am event in Collingwood, Ont. But the tour is known for developing many of the game’s best golfers. The Top 25 players on the tour’s money list at the end of the year move to the PGA Tour. In the past, players like this year’s breakout star, Brendon Todd, who beat Mike Weir at the Byron Nelson in May, tour star Jimmy Walker and Masters winner Zach Johnson have all played on the Web.com Tour.
The field has a large number of Canadians in it, many of whom have played on the Web.com Tour, including Stuart Anderson (Calgary, AB), Adam Chamberlain (Bathurst, NB), Matt Hill (Sarnia, ON), Michael Gligic (Burlington, ON), Corey Renfrew (Victoria, BC), Adam Svensson (Surrey, BC) and Eugene Wong (Vancouver, BC).
Canadian David Hearn is now a regular on the PGA Tour. But after failing to hold onto his PGA Tour privileges in 2005, Hearn played several years on the Web.com Tour. This year he’s had a solid season, with three Top 10 finishes, including a T6 at the Players Championship, but Hearn recognizes the quality of the players on the Web.com Tour, which he last played in 2010.
“The guys come off the Web.com Tour ready to compete and hit the ground running,” he says.
Gary Woodland had a similar take. The PGA Tour bomber, who was in Halifax for the inaugural Canada Cup, played a limited time on the Web.com Tour, but recognizes its benefits in developing top players.
“It was great for me to gain confidence,” he says.
Hadwin says many casual golf fans fail to recognize the level of play on the tour, something he knows from his time on Web.com. Hadwin nearly won the 2011 RBC Canadian Open, but has not been able to move onto the PGA Tour since then. That’s a testament the talent on the tour, he says.
“It is almost harder to win out here than up there,” he says, referring to the PGA Tour. “The level of competition is extremely underrated. But I know that half of my graduating group next year will have a shot at winning on the PGA Tour. That’s really impressive when you think about it.”
Where: Ashburn Golf Club, 60 Golf Club Rd. Windsor Junction, NS
What: Inaugural playing of the Web.com Tour’s Nova Scotia Open. Broadcast on Golf Channel at varying times.