91 days ago, Adam Hadwin participated in the opening round of the PLAYERS Championship, shooting an opening-round 69.
Then, professional golf shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three months later, Hadwin is back near the top of the leaderboard.
His five-under 65 in the opening round of the Charles Schwab Challenge puts him within two shots of first-round leader Justin Rose (7-under).
“You never quite know what’s going to happen,” Hadwin said to reporters after his first round. “I got off to just a great start for the week. It’s nice to be back playing again. Looking forward to the rest of it.”
For the majority of the hiatus, Hadwin spent time at his home in Wichita, Kansas. He didn’t touch his clubs early on, keeping busy with the birth of his daughter, Maddux.
It was only the past few weeks where he ramped up his practicing, so he can be ready for the return to golf at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I didn’t get into it really until the last two, three weeks,” Hadwin said. “Just been working on trying to get the club a little bit more on plane going back. Other than that, not much. Just kind of back out here playing golf again, hitting some shots again, which I haven’t done for a while.”
Any rust from the layoff wasn’t apparent on Thursday for Hadwin. The Abbotsford, B.C. native converted 71.4 percent of his fairways, 83.3 percent greens in regulation, and achieved strokes gained: putting of 2.09. Putting is an area of Hadwin’s game that hindered him in the past, but has shown tangible improvement this season. Before the pandemic halted play, Hadwin’s strokes gained: putting ranked 27th on the PGA Tour (0.505).
His eight birdies on the card shot the Canadian up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth.
— Bob Weeks (@BobWeeksTSN) June 11, 2020
Hadwin isn’t the only Canadian represented in the Charles Schwab Challenge field this week. Corey Conners (4-under) and Mackenzie Hughes (1-under) both shot under-par rounds. Hughes is coming off a runner-up finish at the Honda Classic, while Conners is eager to replicate his banner year from last season, where he won the Valero Texas Open.
There may be no fans in the galleries but this isn’t stopping Canada’s top golfers from competing for a chance at a title.
“The level of competitor out here is so good you can expect some good play,” Conners said to TSN’s Bob Weeks Wednesday. “there’s going to be a winner on Sunday, people there or not.”