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Svensson set to defend at the RSM

Adam Svensson Adam Svensson - The Canadian Press

For the first time since he started swinging a club, Adam Svensson is getting ready to defend a title. The Canadian is back at the RSM Classic, in Sea Island, Ga., where he notched the first victory of his young PGA Tour career a year ago.

“I can't even remember if I ever defended one, even mini-tour stuff,” said Svensson. “I think every time I won, I just didn't play. Yes, I think it is the first time.”

He’s glad he’s back as winning this particular tournament gives the defending champion some perks. He’s on a lot of signage on the property and has a premier parking spot. He also gets to stay in a sweet cottage that’s right on the course.

But the best part maybe all the memories that come back, that get the juices flowing for trying to do it all over.

“I think just the feeling after you win,” said Svensson, recalling his two-shot victory. “You go home, and, for me, I was up for two or three nights. You just really can't believe it at first. That's probably it. I think just the feeling you have after; you go home and it's all over, just feels like you accomplished your goal.”

Svensson’s 2022-23 campaign could be considered a breakout year. He not only won the RSM, but had great performances in other events, such as leading the Players Championship, teeing it up in his first Masters and finishing inside the top 50 on the FedEx Cup ranking, guaranteeing him a spot in next season’s signature events.

“I think it’s my best year on the PGA Tour,” he said, “and I feel like I've played my best golf of my career and I feel like I'm getting better and better and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Svensson was always regarded as major talent through his junior and amateur days. But his go-for-it style of play sometimes hurt him during his first few years as a professional, turning 16 or 17 good holes into a poor round with a bad result on one or two.

He said his maturity has allowed him to play better golf this year by playing smarter golf.

“I'm a lot less aggressive,” he admitted. “Knowing where to hit it. Just little things like laying up instead of going for it and not missing long. Just little things that add up throughout the year and you put those little things together and you know it adds up in the end.”

Svensson finished the season ranked 35th in the Strokes Gained: Total category, a catch-all statistic that shows a player’s all-around game. That was one spot ahead of Jordan Spieth. That’s the type of company Svensson wants to be in.

He will get plenty of that next year when he plays in the PGA Tour’s new signature events. The tournaments have fields of 70 to 80 players with no cuts and purses of $20 million. The Canadian is looking forward to those, especially as most will be on tough courses such as Riviera Country Club (Genesis Invitational), Bay Hill Golf Club (Arnold Palmer) and Muirfield Village Golf Club (The Memorial). He prefers a grinding challenge as opposed to a birdie race where the winning score can be 25 under.

Svensson also has an eye on the Presidents Cup team, hoping to play for Mike Weir at Royal Montreal. He’s currently in 15th spot on the points list, but there’s a long way to go before the International side is finalized.

At the moment, the 29-year-old is focused on trying to repeat at the RSM Classic, which is his 35th start of the year. That’s a lot of golf but the more the better as far as he’s concerned.

“I just love playing,” said Svensson. “I love competing and I feel like I learn so much each week. Even if I don't play good, I still learn, and if I play great, I learn. So, I feel like the more events I play, just the better I better I get.”

And if he happens to win again this week, not only will he get another chance to defend a title, but he’ll also get to stay in the sweet course-side cabin again next year.