While he finished 2018 ranked a respectable 69th in the world and ended the last PGA Tour campaign in 36th position on the FedEx Cup, Adam Hadwin admitted that he’s glad last season is behind him.
“Overall,” he summed up, “it was probably a bit of a letdown.”
As he gets set to re-start the new year next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the Abbotsford, B.C., product is hoping to see more results like he had in 2016-17, when he notched his first win, posted a magical round of 59 and played in the Presidents Cup.
“I know it’s a small part of a long career,” he said of last season. “I had a good start. I was in contention early and had some chances. I played well on some weekends to have some good finishes, then I fell off again in the summer and ended the year on a high note.”
Hadwin put on a final push in the FedEx Cup playoffs, finishing the first three events T11, T21 and T19, just missing out on a spot in the Tour Championship. While those tournaments were highlights, he said they also covered up more of a mediocre season.
“The finishes in the playoffs made it seem like it was better season than it was,” he admitted. “Going to the playoffs I was 70th on the FedEx Cup. I was really on the outside looking in, so to finish 36th after that shows how volatile the playoffs can be. You can move up so much. It just takes an average season and turns it into what looks like a really good season in three events.”
For the second straight year, Hadwin’s game lulled in the summer months. From the Memorial through the PGA Championship, he finished no better than a tie for 35th, that coming at the Open Championship. He also missed his only three cuts of the year in that stretch, at the US Open, the PGA Championship and the RBC Canadian Open.
The summer swoon is something he and his coach Ralph Bauer will analyze. It might be due to the courses he plays or perhaps the summer heat or a combination of factors, but they want to try and understand why his game falters at that time of the year.
While there was understandably disappointment with the results, Hadwin remained positive about his game.
“I still feel like I’m a better player than I was a year ago so that’s more of what matters to me.”
Hadwin will need to shore up his putting to get back to where he feels he belongs. In past years, he’s been one of the best in the game on the short grass. Last year, however, the magic touch left him. He dropped from 15th in Strokes Gained: Putting in 2017 to 88th last year.
“I think if anything I just need to grind on the putter a little bit more,” he admitted. “That fell off from previous years. I did feel like I was in a lot more tournaments because of my ball striking. It was a little bit better so I wasn’t scrambling to save par all the time.
“But I just didn’t make enough putts. I felt like throughout the entire year last year, I kept saying I was close and I was just looking for a little bit of momentum and that comes from the putter. I just wasn’t able to make the putts when time called for it.”
Right now, Hadwin hasn’t qualified for any of the majors or World Golf Championship tournaments. He’ll need to play well quickly to add those, especially with the new PGA Tour schedule that has the PGA Championship in May.
He also dearly wants to play for the International side in the Presidents Cup again, one of the major goals for his year.
And the top-ranked Canadian is off to a solid beginning, posting two top-10s in the fall session and joining with Nick Taylor to end up tied for fourth at the World Cup of Golf in Australia.
“Having gotten off to a good start, I’m obviously excited for January and to get back to the level I was at in ’17 and continue to compete in events and give myself chances to win,” he said. “That’s kind of my goal this year, to give myself multiple chances to win golf tournaments, not just a sporadic one or two during the year.”
Hadwin will begin his fifth season on the PGA Tour in Hawaii and play the following week at the Desert Classic in La Quinta, Calif. He’ll skip the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines before playing the next three stops on the west coast swing.