Friday, November 24, 2017
Golf

Adam Hadwin wins PGA's Valspar Championship

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PALM HARBOR — Adam Hadwin is getting married next week. There will be no honeymoon, and that's just fine with him and his fiancee, Jessica Kippenberger.

Hadwin picked up the first PGA Tour win of his eight-year professional career Sunday, beating Patrick Cantlay by one shot in the final round of the Valspar Championship on Innisbrook's Copperhead Course. Along with the win comes a spot in the Masters on April 6-9.

Augusta trumps a honeymoon to French Polynesia.

"I'm just hoping I get my deposit back," Hadwin said. "I understand I won a nice (Valspar) check ($1,134,000), but I don't like to throw money away."

Hadwin shot a final-round par 71 to finish at 14-under 270. He won on the 18th hole with a par putt that followed a bogey by Cantlay, who shot 68.

First-round leader Jim Herman (68) and Dominic Bozzelli (67) tied for third at 12 under.

Hadwin, 29, almost threw away the four-shot lead he had over Cantlay to start the day. He played the front nine safely, with a birdie and a bogey, and had a three-shot lead at the turn. But Cantlay was heating up.

He birdied the ninth, 10th and 11th holes to get within two shots. Both players birdied No. 13, Hadwin on a 40-foot putt. On the par-5 14th hole, Cantlay birdied to get within one. But he gave that shot back with a bogey on 15.

Hadwin was at 16 under and two shots in the clear on the 16th tee.

His drive on the par-4 16th hole faded into the lake. He eventually double bogeyed while Cantlay parred to tie Hadwin at 14 under. It was Hadwin's only double bogey of the tournament.

"I just wiped a 3-wood," Hadwin said. "I needed to hit it solid, but I didn't hit it solid enough. Splash."

Both players parred 17. Both drives on the par-4 18th hole were in the middle of the fairway. But Cantlay sprayed his 7-iron into the right bunker. Hadwin's settled in the back fringe of the green.

Cantlay's sand shot came up 18 feet short of the hole.

"I didn't hit the greatest bunker shots," Cantlay said. "It was a skinny lie, not much sand in there. It was tough. But you shouldn't hit it in the bunker to begin with."

With Cantlay far from the hole, Hadwin chipped his third shot to within a foot. When Cantlay missed his par putt, Hadwin tapped in for the win. And a few fist pumps.

"You're never quite sure when you're going to get the job done," Hadwin said. "I've been playing some great golf this year, and I just stuck to what I do best. I made some quality golf shots and really made the game super easy, outside of hole No. 16. After that hole, I feel fortunate to be here."

Before the Valspar, Cantlay, who turns 25 on Friday, had played only two PGA tournaments in the past three years due to a back injury. Playing on a sponsor's exemption at the Valspar, he recorded his highest finish since turning pro in 2012.

"I didn't feel like there was much rust," said Cantlay, whose only other tournament this year was the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. "I felt good. I was ready to go. My game feels really good right now."

The last time Hadwin had a lead after the third round was at January's CareerBuilder Challenge, where he shot 59 in that round. He lost by a shot. He talked about wanting another shot on the 18th hole this week.

"If I have a chance on the last couple holes, that's right where I want to be," Hadwin said.

     
                                         
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