GOLF

Canadian Hadwin holds off Cantlay to win first US PGA title

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MIAMI: Canada’s Adam Hadwin captured his first US PGA title despite squandering a four-stroke lead, parring Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) final hole to win the Valspar Championship by one shot over American Patrick Cantlay.

A double bogey by Hadwin after finding water off the tee at the par-4 16th left the last-pair duo deadlocked, but Cantlay found a bunker at 18 and missed a 15-foot par putt, allowing Hadwin’s tap-in par to give him the victory.

“I don’t know what to say right now honestly. I fully expected Patrick to make that putt,” Hadwin said. “I just wanted a chance to win on 18 and that’s what I had. I thought it would take a birdie to win it.

“I’m just lucky that one footer wasn’t 1 1/2 feet.”

Adam Hadwin of Canada reacts on the 18th green after winning the Valspar Championship during the final round at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on Monday in Palm Harbor, Florida. AFP PHOTO

Hadwin fired a level par 71 to finish 72 holes on 14-under 270 while Cantlay’s final-round closing 68 left him on 271 with Americans Jim Herman and Dominic Bozzelli sharing third on 272 and Tony Finau on 273.

The victory at the Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Florida, booked the 29-year-old from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a berth at the Masters next month on the week he had scheduled a honeymoon.

“Proud of myself the way I hung in there,” Hadwin said. “This course was going to be a grind the whole way through.”

Despite the defeat, Cantlay’s runner-up finish in only his second event in 28 months was worth $680,000—enough for him to earn his tour card after playing this week on a major medical exemption.

“It’s the one positive from this week but I’m not thinking about it in those terms,” Cantlay said. “I was trying to win the golf tournament.”

Cantlay, who birdied five of six holes in one stretch but just missed his first PGA crown, had been the world’s top-ranked amateur in 2012 but in 2013 suffered a stress fracture in a lower back vertebrae while warming up on a driving range. He has battled back and returned with a share of 48th at Pebble Beach last month.

“Overall I played really good golf,” said Cantlay. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing more tournaments. I’m excited to go out and play again. Nice to put myself in a spot where I’m in contention and I want to do that again.”

Huge sigh of relief
Hadwin, who fired a 59 in January at LaQuinta, began the day with a four-stroke lead but could not shake Cantlay.

Hadwin took a bogey at the par-4 sixth, missing a five-foot par putt, but bounced back with birdie putts of 11 feet at the par-3 eighth and 15 feet at the par-5 11th followed by a tremendous 53-foot birdie effort at the par-3 13th.

Cantlay opened with a birdie but also stumbled with a bogey at six, then rebounded with birdies on five of the next six holes, including a five-footer at 13 to follow Hadwin and the longest putt among them — a 20-footer at the par-5 14th — to reach 15-under and pull one shy of Hadwin with four holes remaining.

Cantlay found a bunker off the tee at the par-3 15th and missed a 20-foot par putt to make bogey and fall back.

Then it was Hadwin’s turn to stumble, finding water off the tee at the par-4 16th and missing a 25-foot putt for a double bogey that dropped him back into a share of the lead with Cantlay on 14-under.

“I certainly didn’t knock myself out of the tournament at 16, but I made it a lot closer than I wanted it to be,” Hadwin said. “I was never out of it. I was kept my focus, kept my head into it and made a couple of putts when I needed to.”

At 18, Cantlay found a greenside bunker with a 7-iron from 168 yards while Hadwin was on the back fringe. Cantlay blasted out to 15 feet while Hadwin rolled inches from the cup.

“A huge sigh of relief. That’s the biggest thing,” Hadwin said.

AFP

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