To­gether again on the course

Had­win, Taylor re­united as pair­ing for first round of Cana­dian Open

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JOHN CHIDLEY-HILL

When Adam Had­win and Nick Taylor be­gin the open­ing round of the RBC Cana­dian Open on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, it’s go­ing to feel more like a trip down mem­ory lane than a na­tional cham­pi­onship on the PGA Tour.

They’re paired up in the first round of a tour­na­ment for the first time since their teenage years when they some­times played to­gether at Ledgeview Golf and Coun­try Club. Just six months apart in age, Had­win and Taylor grew up to­gether in Ab­bots­ford, B.C., and have be­come two of Canada’s top pro­fes­sional golfers.

“It might feel like just a ca­sual round, a round around Ledgeview for us as a 15- and 16-year-old,” said Had­win on Wed­nes­day af­ter play­ing in a pro-am at Glen Abbey Golf Course. “We’ll just hope­fully go out and have some fun. Maybe have a few side bets or two. But don’t tell any­body that.”

Taylor laughed when he heard about the side bets. “Yeah, I’m sure we’ll fig­ure some­thing out.”

Taylor won his first PGA ti­tle at the San­der­son Farms Cham­pi­onship in 2014. Even though Had­win’s the older of the two, it took him a few more years to earn his first vic­tory on the Tour, win­ning the Valspar Cham­pi­onship in March. He also shot a 59 at the Ca­reerBuilder Chal­lenge in Jan­uary.

“We def­i­nitely have a com­fort level play­ing with each other,” said Taylor. “I don’t think that will be a huge deal play­ing to­gether, it’s play­ing to­gether at the Cana­dian Open that will make it a lit­tle more fun, a lit­tle more mem­o­rable.”

Had­win and Taylor are two of 17 Cana­di­ans com­pet­ing in the tour­na­ment at Glen Abbey this week­end. No Cana­dian has won the na­tional cham­pi­onship since am­a­teur Pat Fletcher did it at Van­cou­ver’s Point Grey Golf Club in 1954.

It’s a drought that all the Cana­di­ans are well aware of.

“We’re all try­ing our best. Yes, we know that Pat Fletcher was the last one to win,” said Had­win with a smile. “We know that. So we’re all try­ing our best to be mov­ing for­ward. If one of us wins then it’s only been a cou­ple years since a Cana­dian’s won.”

Had­win is the high­est rated Cana­dian on the PGA Tour right now, ranked 13th in the FedExCup stand­ings. Com­ing just four days af­ter the Open at Royal Birk­dale Golf Club in South­port, Eng­land, it will be a de­pleted field on Thurs­day with only No. 2 Dustin John­son above Had­win in the stand­ings.

John­son feels that go­ing from the United King­dom to Canada isn’t that hard be­cause the jet lag that comes from trav­el­ling west­ward isn’t as tax­ing on his sleep sched­ule. He’s look­ing for­ward to play­ing at Glen Abbey, where he tied for sec­ond last year.

“It’s in per­fect con­di­tion,” said John­son of the course. “You can’t find any­thing wrong with it. The greens are per­fect. The fair­ways are per­fect.

“If I drive it straight, I’m go­ing to have a good week.”

Other Cana­di­ans in the field are Gra­ham DeLaet of Wey­burn, Sask., and David Hearn of Brant­ford, Ont., who will also be paired to­gether on Thurs­day, as well as Ot­tawa’s Brad Fristch, Macken­zie Hughes of Dun­das, Ont., Mike Weir of Brights Grove, Ont., Jared Du Toit, of Kim­ber­ley, B.C., Matt Hill of Sar­nia, Ont., Van­cou­ver’s Ryan Wil­liams, Ri­ley Wheel­don of Co­mox, B.C.,

Bryn Parry of North Van­cou­ver, B.C., Drew Nes­bitt of Shanty Bay, Ont., and Toronto’s Daniel Kim.

Three Cana­dian am­a­teurs will also be play­ing: Gar­rett Rank of Elmira, Ont., Hugo Bernard of Mont-Saint Hil­laire, Que., and Austin James of Bath, Ont.

Last sea­son Du Toit took the tour­na­ment by storm as an am­a­teur, sit­ting sec­ond head­ing into the fi­nal round of play be­fore drop­ping into a tie for ninth. He’s since com­pleted his se­nior year at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity and turned pro­fes­sional.

“I don’t like set­ting nu­mer­i­cal ex­pec­ta­tions,” said the 22-yearold Du Toit. “I’m just go­ing to go out, try and play great golf and if it’s a great fin­ish than that’s awe­some and if not, that’s OK too. I’m not too wor­ried.”

CP PHOTO

Adam Had­win of Ab­bots­ford B.C. drives off of the 17th tee dur­ing the 2017 Cana­dian Open Pro-Am in Oakville, Ont., on Wed­nes­day.

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