'We all want to kick each other's butts': Hadwin excited for all-Canadian U.S. Open group
Adam Hadwin shot 79 at Winged Foot on Tuesday, and while he wasn’t all that happy with the score, it wasn’t all that bad considering the difficulty of the course that will host this week’s U.S. Open.
However it did mean that he and his partner Corey Conners had to fork over a few dollars to their opponents, fellow Canucks Mackenzie Hughes and Taylor Pendrith in the regular Tuesday Maple Leaf outing.
The regular all-Canadian practice round has become a fixture on the tour this year as more and more of the north-of-the-49th gang qualify for big events.
Pendrith, who qualified through his play on the Korn Ferry Tour, is making his debut in the foursome, replacing regular Nick Taylor, who didn’t make it into the year’s second major championship despite winning at Pebble Beach earlier this year.
The Canadians will get a chance to play together in more than just a practice round this week as Hadwin, Hughes and Conners are grouped for the first two rounds. The United States Golf Association has a history of creating interesting groups and this year gave a nod to the Canucks.
“It certainly will be a very comfortable pairing,” stated Hadwin, who is making his fifth start in the U.S. Open. “We’ve played a lot of practice rounds together these last few weeks.
“Of course we all want to kick each other’s butts and prove to each other who the best Canadian is,” he joked. “Maybe we can spur each other on.”
Hadwin comes into the tournament after two weeks at home, feeling rested but unsure of his game. Since the restart, he’s posted one top-10 and one missed cut. The other seven finishes ranged between a tie for 35th and a tie for 72nd, and he’s expressed frustration at the minor miscues that continue to push his results down the leaderboard.
“Game-wise, I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what to expect,” said Hadwin, who felt he hasn’t been sharp during the preparation for Thursday’s opening round.
“I’ve played some of my best events having played terrible in practice rounds,” he added optimistically. “I’ve certainly seen all the places I shouldn’t be, so I know where not to go.”
Coming into an event such as the U.S. Open with doubts is not a great starting point. The course setup is always severe and unrelenting. This year at Winged Foot, it is, to paraphrase from Spinal Tap, right up to 11 on a scale of one to 10.
“This is probably one of the toughest golf courses just as it is naturally set up,” stated Hadwin, who is ranked 64th in the world. “I don’t think the USGA really had to do a whole lot to this place to make it into a U.S. Open course.”
The last time it was played out on this course in 2006, the winning score was a lofty five over par when Geoff Ogilvy won. In 1974, in a tournament dubbed the “Massacre at Winged Foot,” Hale Irwin took the title at seven over.
The rough is deep and punishing, although Hadwin said he was able to advance the ball with eight- and seven-iron shots in his practice round. The greens are equally severe, being exceptionally firm and with severe slopes. A six-foot putt can have as much as a foot and a half of break, Hadwin stated.
While the course is physically difficult, just playing it creates a mental challenge.
“Everyone is going to hit bad shots. Everyone is going to be in the rough and everyone is going to have to chop it out sideways at some point,” said Hadwin. “It’s who is going to be able to deal with that the best.”
The Canadian trio will tee off at 8:29 a.m. ET while Pendrith makes his start at 12:10 p.m.