Late birdies lift Hadwin to first career Tour victory

Abbotsford's Adam Hadwin celebrated a major career milestone on Sunday, earning his first career Tour victory.
— image credit: Tour photo

Abbotsford's Adam Hadwin staged a major breakthrough in Santiago, Chile on Sunday, earning his first career win on the Tour.

The 26-year-old had taken a one-stroke lead (13 under par) into the final round at the Chile Open at the Prince of Wales Country Club, but five golfers were within two shots of him on a tightly packed leaderboard.

One of those was Australian Alistair Presnell, who started the round two strokes in arrears but eagled the 18th hole to get to -15 for the tournament – one better than Hadwin as he headed to the 17th.

But the Robert Bateman Secondary grad came through in the clutch, birdying the last two holes to seize the victory and a $117,000 US payday.

“I heard roars (when Presnell made eagle on 18) but I didn’t know what happened,” Hadwin told the Tour website. “I knew it was going to be close. I said to my caddie on 17 tee that if I make two birdies they can’t catch us.”

Hadwin got up and down from a greenside bunker on the reachable par-four 17th to tie Presnell at -15.

On the 529-yard par-five 18th, he hit a perfect drive down the right-centre of the fairway, 230 yards from the pin. His second shot, a four iron, was to the right of the green, but he pitched to within four feet and drained the putt for the win.

“I don’t know what to say. I really don’t know to feel, what to think,” he said. “It’s amazing. I battled all day and to finish birdie-birdie and make the putts I did on the last two holes gives me so much confidence. I couldn’t be happier right now.”

Hadwin, who carded rounds of 67, 69, 67 and 69, hadn't won in two previous seasons on the Tour, which is the second tier of pro golf in North America. His previous best finish was third, a feat he accomplished twice in 2012.

The Chile Open is just the second stop of the 2014 Tour season, but the win is a huge boon for Hadwin in his quest to earn a PGA Tour card for 2015. Coming off an eighth-place result at the season-opening Colombia Championship, he's currently at the top of the Tour money list with total earnings of 136,500. The top 25 golfers at season's end get PGA Tour cards.

Fellow Abbotsford golfer Nick Taylor made the cut at the Chile Open, finishing tied for 42nd at seven under par.

“We’re all in this battle, a year-long race to get onto the PGA Tour and this just puts me one step closer to my goal," Hadwin said.

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