U.S. OPEN: Adam Hadwin saves 2nd round over closing stretch; heads to weekend among leaders


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BROOKLINE, Mass. — The last thing you want to do at a U.S. Open is force the issue, but with two holes left at The Country Club on Friday, first round leader Adam Hadwin was yet to make a birdie, something he had done six times just a day earlier.

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“I definitely sensed myself getting a little frustrated,” Hadwin said after his round. “I was doing a lot of good things that weren’t going in today.”

Through 16 holes of his second round, the 34-year-old Canadian had dropped to even-par for the tournament, having given back all four strokes from Thursday’s memorable four-under 66. It’s the U.S. Open, keep in mind, so it’s not like anyone was running away from the Abbotsford, B.C. native. After beginning his round on the 10th hole and bogeying four of his first 11, Hadwin reached the closing stretch knowing there was an opportunity to make back ground.

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“You’ve got a downwind reachable par-5 at eight, and certainly it enters into your mind, let’s give this a run,” he said.

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Hadwin did just that, blasting a 352-yard drive down the right side of the fairway, setting up a 12-footer for eagle after a beautiful approach from 200 yards out. His eagle putt from behind the hole was dangerously quick and slid just past, but led to his first birdie of the day.

Over the final two holes, Hadwin looked much more like the man who barely missed a shot in Thursday’s first round. After another wonderful approach at the ninth, he rolled in a 13-foot birdie putt and walked off the course with back-to-back circles on his scorecard for a two-over 72. Hadwin had fought back to two-under par through 36 holes, and will head to the weekend comfortably among the leaders.

“Today I hung in there which was key,” he said. “That round could have slipped away pretty easily at points and I just kept grinding.”

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Teeing off shortly after 8 a.m. at Brookline on Friday, it was an early morning for the Canadian after leaving the course late Thursday and going to bed with a major championship lead for the first time in his career.

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“I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have wanted last night,” he said. “It was a later night and I think just a little more difficult to come down from the high of yesterday’s round. I was a little tired this morning.”

Wherever the weekend takes the two-time Presidents Cup player, it’s been an exciting week considering Hadwin didn’t find out he was in the U.S. Open field until last week at St. George’s when Paul Casey withdrew from the season’s third major with an injury. Without much time to plan, the 2017 Valspar Championship winner hasn’t had any family or friends with him so far this week.

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“These are incredible experiences and as an alternate it was great to get in,” he said. “At the same time, I’m trying to treat it like any other event.”

Hadwin played the first two rounds with Jim Furyk (+4) and amateur Nick Dunlap (+12). With amateur Dunlap frequently exploring all corners of the historic golf course just outside of Boston, Hadwin had plenty of time to catch up with fellow member of golf’s sub-60 club Furyk. The Canadian said the pair talked about Furyk’s history in the Ryder Cup here at The Country Club, with Hadwin even urging the 52-year-old to wear one of the hideous burgundy Team USA golf shirts from that famous week. They also spoke of Furyk’s longevity and how the PGA Tour has changed over the years.

“Of course, we touched on LIV and things going on there,” Hadwin said. “It was an enjoyable couple of days, it was fun to watch him grind.”

Before the tournament began Hadwin said he thought The Country Club was fairer than most U.S. Open courses, particularly because it doesn’t favour the game’s bombers as much as many recent venues. The slight golfer from Canada has prepared a long time for this opportunity, and it’s one he’s not planning to shy away from.

“Personally I hope the golf course just continues to get tougher,” he said. “The way that I’m playing it just suits me.”

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