Columnist image
Bob Weeks

TSN Senior Reporter


With the start of a new year comes the chance to refresh the game and the mind, and that’s just what Adam Hadwin is hoping to do as he begins his 2021 campaign this week at the American Express Championship.

While last year wasn’t a terrible one, it was definitely not what Hadwin expected.

“I wasn’t satisfied at all,” he said. “It was just a very frustrating year. I felt like I was just one up-and-down, one shot, or one putt from a top-10 or top-20 finish and that’s what was so frustrating.”

After returning to play following the pause caused by the pandemic, Hadwin’s best finish was a tie for fourth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July. He could manage nothing better than a tie for 28th at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and 2020 ended with him missing three cuts consecutively, including one at the Masters.

And so over the six-week break, Hadwin retreated, reassessed and retooled.

The biggest change came in instructors. Hadwin parted ways with long-time coach Ralph Bauer and began working with Mark Blackburn, who coaches a number of PGA Tour players including Mike Weir. So far, the two have had just one in-person meeting but have worked together over FaceTime throughout the break.

Hadwin described the relationship as one where Blackburn gives him all the information and leaves it up to the golfer to put it to work. So far, he’s pleased with the results.

He’s also spent some time in the gym trying to add some muscle, joining many of the PGA Tour’s members, as they look to add some distance.

“I’m not expecting to play amazing right out of the gate,” he stated. “I’m really looking to just start playing a little better and get into a rhythm on the golf course again. It’s been a while since I’ve played some really good golf.”

If he is looking for a good place to find his game, this week’s event has to be near the top of the list. The last four times he’s played this event, he’s finished tied for sixth, second, tied for third and tied for second. He missed last year’s tournament following the birth of he and wife Jess’s daughter, Maddox.

There are some changes to this year’s edition of the American Express. There are no amateurs in what is usually a pro-am format, and only two courses, the Stadium Course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West. La Quinta Country Club, where Hadwin fired a round of 59 in 2017, is out of the rotation this year.

“It’s a familiar place,” Hadwin stated. “It’s similar to Phoenix, the golf is kind of the same. The only thing missing will be all the Canadian fans that are usually down there. Hopefully the ones in their back yards will be cheering for us.”

Beyond this week, Hadwin is still firming up his schedule. Right now, the only major he’s confirmed for is the Open Championship. Although he hasn’t given up on making the Olympics, he knows he has a lot of ground to make up on the Official World Golf Ranking. He currently sits 79th while Corey Conners is 58th, and Mackenzie Hughes is 49th. The top two will play for Canada in late July in Tokyo.

Off the course, Hadwin and his wife have also been busy, setting up a foundation to help families having trouble getting pregnant. The Hadwins went through a long and expensive process before finally welcoming their daughter into the world last January. Now they hope to help other families do the same through this endeavor.

“Jess is so passionate about this. We feel very privileged to be able to help out and give people the same help we got,” said Hadwin, who will make an announcement about the foundation’s work in the next few weeks.

For now, the focus is on the course and getting back into form. Hadwin knows that it will start with little improvements but he’s hoping to see those add up to bigger ones as the season progresses.