RED-HOT HAD­WIN

Cana­dian dom­i­nates back nine to claim lead at Valspar

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ADAM Had­win knows all about go­ing low on the PGA Tour. Still to be deter­mined is whether that trans­lates into a vic­tory.

Had­win, who shot a 59 at the Ca­reerBuilder Chal­lenge two months ago, ran off five straight birdies to start the back nine Fri­day at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship and posted a seven-un­der 64 to take a one-shot lead into the week­end.

Even play­ing in the af­ter­noon in a strong breeze and crustier put­ting sur­faces, the Cana­dian one-putted ev­ery hole on the back nine un­til he had no choice but to lag a 20-foot birdie at­tempt on the 18th hole to make sure it didn’t race all the way off the green and into the fair­way.

He shot 29 on the back and reached the half­way point at In­nis­brook at 10-un­der 132, one shot clear of Jim Her­man.

“You can’t go out and shoot seven un­der on the Cop­per­head Course with­out do­ing ev­ery­thing right,” Had­win said. “I put my­self in po­si­tion off the tee box, hit a ton of fair­ways then just re­ally hit the irons solidly to­day . ... And here I am go­ing into the week­end.”

And he still has a long way to go.

Her­man, com­ing off a 62 in the open­ing round, be­gan with 11 straight pars be­fore trading birdies and bo­geys and set­tling for a 71.

Ty­rone Van Aswe­gen had a 65 and was two shots be­hind, fol­lowed by a group at seven-un­der 135 that in­cluded Bri­tish Open cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son (71), Rus­sell Hen­ley (71) and Do­minic Bozzelli (68).

Sten­son opened with a birdie to get within one shot of the lead, but he didn’t make an­other one un­til hol­ing a 30-foot putt on the 15th.

He was fooled at times by the wind, which kept him from more rea­son­able birdie chances.

Still, the 40-year-old Swede felt his iron play get­ting bet­ter, and he got one bonus that had noth­ing to do with golf. Walk­ing down the sec­ond fair­way, two-year-old daugh­ter Alice saw her dad and ran out to greet him.

“She doesn’t know how to stay out­side the ropes, that’s for sure,” Sten­son said with a smile. “She comes run­ning in when she sees me. That was good.”

Sten­son is No 6 in the world, the high­est-ranked player at In­nis­brook. The Valspar Cham­pi­onship will be miss­ing their other top 10 play­ers be­cause Justin Thomas, who swept the Hawaii swing, had a 74 and missed the cut.

Also miss­ing the cut was Billy Horschel, leav­ing him no chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the Dell Match Play in two weeks. Horschel, who won the FedEx Cup in 2014 and reached as high as No 12 in the world two years ago, has not been el­i­gi­ble for the last four World Golf Cham­pi­onships.

Had­win could make his way into Match Play with a run­ner-up fin­ish, though now it’s all about win­ning.

He be­came the ninth player with a sub-60 rounds on the PGA Tour in the Cal­i­for­nia desert, only to fin­ish one shot be­hind Hud­son Swaf­ford. A week later, he was in the fi­nal group Satur­day at Tor­rey Pines un­til fad­ing to a 7476 week­end.

“I’ve put my­self in po­si­tion the last cou­ple of years,” Had­win said. “I feel like the fin­ishes have got­ten stronger, and I keep kind of put­ting my­self there go­ing into the week­ends. Just get­ting more comfortable out there.

“Learn­ing how I feel un­der pres­sure, and fig­ur­ing out how to deal with that. I’m ex­cited for this week­end, what it will bring, and hope to keep some of these scores com­ing.”

PGA Tour rookie Wes­ley Bryan, best known for his trick shots that made him a YouTube golf sen­sa­tion be­fore earn­ing a tour card, had an­other 68 and was only four shots be­hind.

Bryan tied for fourth in his last two starts at the Gen­e­sis Open and Honda Classic.

AFP PIC

Adam Had­win plays a shot on the 18th dur­ing the sec­ond round of the Valspar Cham­pi­onship on Fri­day.

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