Every casual golfer has thought they could be a completely different player if only they had more time.
Turns out we’re not alone. Even at the game’s highest level, players are constantly trying to find a balance between golf and life, between how much time to spend on the range compared to the putting green, or even the gym.
Maybe that’s why Tiger Woods wakes up at 4 a.m.
When things are going well for PGA Tour golfers, everything fits into the schedule. It’s still hours of practice every day, but as long as it’s mainly keeping things sharp and finely tuned, life is good. It’s when you’ve made the decision to change something in your game that it becomes a risk-reward scenario. Turns out, even when your job is golf, it can be hard to fit it all into a day.
“It just depends on how much time you want to put in,” said Adam Hadwin. “If one part of the game is lacking, you need to spend time on that, but if you take time away something else will suffer. So you’ve got to continue to spend the same amount of time on the rest but add in extra time on what’s lacking. It’s a difficult balancing act but that’s why we’re out here, we want to play with the best in world.”
Hadwin has been down this road. In 2017, the Canadian had a career year with a win, a runner-up, and two other top-10 finishes — one at the WGC Bridgestone and another at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Hadwin’s putting was so good in 2017 that most American fans and media assumed it was his great strength. Turns out, for most of his life the opposite was true. As a teenager, Hadwin was a ball-striking virtuoso, often hitting 16 or 17 greens in regulation in a round, but shooting two or three over par because of poor putting. As a young pro, Hadwin was finally convinced to put in the time necessary on his putting, but found his ball-striking began to suffer. In 2017, it all came together.
In recent months, Hadwin has been working hard on his iron game. He showed up at the PGA Championship hitting the ball great, but, you guessed it, the putts wouldn’t drop. He had a new putter the bag and admitted he hadn’t quite put in enough time with it yet. At 31 years old, Hadwin is a more complete player now and said that going forward he is going to continue his focus on ball-striking. He knows the amount of work it took him to get his putting to an elite level and feels his time is better spent elsewhere.
“You can kind of putt average and still play well,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do what Jordan Spieth did two or three years ago, where he was sort of considered an average ball striker and a really good putter and he was at the top. If you look at the top players consistently — yes, they’re going to have good putting weeks — but overall, they’re the best ball strikers on tour. So that’s where I think that I can make the most improvement.”
Oh yes, the curious case of Jordan Spieth.
The 25-year-old three-time major winner finally seems to be emerging from a long slump. After starting 2019 without a top-20 finish through his first 11 tournaments, Spieth has back-to-back top-10 finishes at the PGA Championship and last week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. Spieth’s slump worked its way through his entire bag. He worked on his putting and his irons left town. He fixed his irons and his driver went AWOL. Everywhere he went, everyone wanted to know what had happened to his game.
The answer? Start pouring in 40-foot bombs again, of course.
Spieth made 480 feet of putts last week at Colonial, gaining 7.5 strokes against the field on the greens.
“It was kind of ignorance is bliss before, where I didn’t know why I was kind of on, and now I do,” Spieth said.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day to teach that.
HADWIN’S ROAD TO U.S. OPEN NOT EASY
Adam Hadwin would love to play in the U.S. Open but the road to Pebble Beach won’t be easy for the Canadian.
The top 60 players in the world rankings as of June 10 automatically earn a spot in the field at the season’s third major. Hadwin sits 77th in the world and tees it up this week at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio, before coming north next week for the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. The Abbotsford, B.C., native has had success at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial tournament, finishing tied for 11th in 2016.
The other route for Hadwin would be trying his chances at a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier on the Monday of Canadian Open week but that would make for a very busy week for the 31-year-old, who is determined to put his best foot forward in Hamilton.
“Yes, I want to play the U.S. Open, of course, but if I want to play the Canadian Open and play well and bring an appropriate game then the Monday might just not be the right thing to do,” Hadwin said after his final round at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Long Island.”
The worst case scenario would be to play the 36-hole qualifier unsuccessfully and also put his readiness for his national open in jeopardy.
As important as major championships are to golfers, Hadwin was asked whether the RBC Canadian Open is even more important to him.
“It is, 100%,” Hadwin said.
Mike Weir and Nick Taylor will be in the field at Pebble Beach after successfully qualifying last week.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019