Some good scores couldn’t come at a better time for two Canadians on the PGA Tour.
At the halfway point of the 3M Open, Adam Hadwin is tied for the lead at 10-under while Roger Sloan is one shot back. Both players are trying to stay inside the top 125 on the tour’s FedEx Cup points list which gives them a spot in the season-ending playoffs and, more importantly, allows them to retain their playing privileges for next season. Hadwin currently sits 120th while Sloan is 147th. There are just two more events after this week.
“The biggest thing for me this week, I just got a little bit more committed to the process than the outcome,” said Hadwin, who has never missed the postseason since joining the PGA Tour in 2015. “Certainly playoffs, maintaining status, all that stuff has probably been creeping in a little bit and I probably got away from some of the little details that make this game happen for us so I’ve gone back to that these last few rounds and it’s working out a lot better for me.”
Hadwin has just two top-10 finishes in 24 starts this season and he’s missed the cut in his last three tournaments including last week’s Open Championship. His scores have been greatly affected by swing changes he’s been making which have taken time to solidify. Flirting with finishing outside the top 125 has only added to the distraction.
Leading at the halfway mark isn’t new to the Abbotsford, B.C., product but it was a while back. When he notched his lone victory in 2017, he was on top after 36. That, he said, will give him some confidence.
“Just being in that position before, I know the feeling,” said Hadwin, who is tied in top spot with Ryan Armour. “It's been a while, but I know the feeling, it's still there. I think more than anything now, just the game plan that we've had coming into this week, just again focusing on that process and less on the outcome and not worrying about FedExCup position, playoffs, all that kind of stuff and just focusing on the shot at hand. If I can do that, I'll be in good shape.”
Hadwin was bogey-free on Friday and has made just one bogey so far this week. The alterations to his swing have been a work in process and most weeks, he’s had to grind out a score. But on Friday, he never seemed to be in trouble, never seemed to be in danger. He hit 15 greens in regulation, not an easy task around TPC Twin Cities, which was buffeted with winds throughout the day.
“I tell you what, it feels really good to kind of play stress free for a little bit,” he stated. “Like I said, it hasn't been very stress free in the last couple months. Again, picking spots, hitting targets, I'm pulling golf shots off, hitting it to the smart sides of the pins and having tap-ins for par when I miss birdies. If I can keep playing stress free the rest of this weekend, I'll feel pretty good.”
Sloan has also made just one bogey, that coming on his last hole of the day when he rinsed a ball in the water on the par-5 18th. His second round wasn’t quite as exciting as his opening-round 64, but he played mistake-free for most of it and hit a number of iron shots close.
For Sloan, being in the race around the cutoff mark of the FedEx Cup standings is nothing new. He first played the PGA Tour in 2015 but lost his status and dropped down to the Korn Ferry Tour. He rejoined the PGA Tour in 2019 and ended the season in 93rd spot on the FedEx Cup points list. Last season he was 169th but retained his privileges due to the season being cut short by the pandemic.
Although he is currently below the cutoff mark, Sloan isn’t concerned.
“I’m in a good place,” said the Merritt, B.C., product, who always seems to carry an optimistic outlook. “I’m not too concerned where I finish. It’s just me and the golf course this weekend. I just need to play golf and not worry. There’s a tendency at this time of the year for guys to get tense or tight. But I’m comfortable no matter where I play next year.”
Sloan has had good finishes at this tournament before, finishing tied for 15th two years ago. The course and the atmosphere appeal to him he said, adding there might be one more reason he enjoys it.
“The course is so close to Canada,” he chuckled.
Just to make it seem even more like home, the house he has rented with his family this week had hockey sticks in the garage, which he and his young son have been using when he’s not at the course.
The Canadian duo has a lot of company on the leaderboard. Sloan is tied with three others in third place while there are 18 golfers within three shots of the lead.