Adam Hadwin sniffed and coughed his way around TPC Sawgrass on Thursday, struggling his way to a four-over 76 while battling a cold.
It wasn’t an ideal start for Canada’s highest-ranked player, who is hunting for world ranking points in a quest to earn a spot in the Masters.
“I’m certainly not 100 per cent physically or mentally right now,” Hadwin said after his round. “It sucks to have it happen in one of the biggest events of the year but it is what it is. It’s golf and you have to battle through. I just didn’t do a good enough job of managing it today.”
To get into the Masters, Hadwin needs to be in the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking the week prior to the tournament. He currently sits in 65th place.
Hadwin said he dealt with allergies at the end of last week but that it turned into a cold on Monday. His condition was poor enough that he managed just 14 holes of practice play, walking in after five holes on Tuesday and cutting a planned 18-hole round in half on Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate the timing of it but you have to battle on with it and find a way to get the ball in the hole,” stated Hadwin. “I knew today was going to be a grind. I knew that I was going to have to make a lot of smart decisions and I just made a few poor swings at the wrong times and it cost me.”
Hadwin’s day was a mixture of bad swings and what he called a lot of loose swings. After bogeys on the fourth and six, the Abbotsford, B.C., product made a mess of the seventh hole, dropping his second shot into the water en route to a double bogey.
If there was a bright spot on an otherwise dark day it was Hadwin keeping alive his streak of landing on terra firma on the 17th hole.
He hit a gap wedge to six feet on the hole, rolling it in for one of just three birdies in his round. He has now played the hole 15 times and never dropped a ball into the drink.
“Small victories,” he said with a smile.
Despite the poor start to one of the biggest events of the year, Hadwin still managed to smile outwardly and to greet kids with high-fives as he walked between holes. To watch him stroll along, it would seem as if he was deep under par rather than struggling.
“I’m glad it looks like that on the outside because on the inside I’m breaking clubs,” he stated. “It’s difficult. There were a lot of points where I wanted to do some not so good things to my clubs. It certainly helps when you’re walking on fairways and kids are sticking their hands out and smiling. They’re here having a good time and you kind of get reminded it’s a little bit bigger than making a couple of bogeys.”
Hadwin planned to spend most of the next 24 hours resting in hopes that he can rebound ahead of Friday’s second round.