Had­win leads by 4, closes in on first win

The Washington Post Sunday - - BASEBALL -

Adam Had­win only wants a chance to win when he tees it up on the PGA Tour, and he’s never had a chance like this one in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Birdie putts from 35 feet and 55 feet on the back nine Satur­day at the Valspar Cham­pi­onship stretched his lead to four shots. Equally im­por­tant to him was the slick, bend­ing six-foot par putt on the fi­nal hole.

“Three shots is much eas­ier to come back from than four shots,” Had­win said after a clean card of 4-un­der-par 67. “That ex­tra shot could be every­thing to­mor­row. That was a big putt for me, I think, men­tally go­ing into to­mor­row.”

The 29-year-old Cana­dian over­came a brief bout of nerves on the prac­tice range with a flaw­less day in a strong, warm breeze on the Cop­per­head Course at In­nis­brook. That six-foot par putt made it 31 straight holes with­out a bo­gey, put him at 14-un­der 199 and gave him the four­shot lead over Pa­trick Cant­lay.

It was the third time in the last four PGA Tour events the 54-hole leader was up by at least four shots, and all of them won com­fort­ably — Jor­dan Spi­eth at Peb­ble Beach, Dustin John­son at Riviera and Rickie Fowler at PGA Na­tional.

More than a big lead, there is not a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence chas­ing the Cana­dian. Of the three play­ers within six shots of him, only Jim Her­man has ex­pe­ri­enced win­ning on the PGA Tour. Her­man won the Shell Hous­ton Open last year for his first vic­tory.

On Satur­day he had a 71 play­ing in the fi­nal group and fell five shots be­hind.

PGA Tour rookie Do­minic Bozzelli had a 70 and was at 8-un­der 205.

Had­win also had a 54-hole lead in the Ca­reerBuilder Chal­lenge when he shot a 59 in the third round. He closed with a 70 and was run­ner-up to Hud­son Swaf­ford. He started that fi­nal round with a one-shot lead over Bozzelli.

Four shots is a lot big­ger than one, though Had­win said it could work both ways. He knows enough about In­nis­brook to re­al­ize it can dis­ap­pear quickly.

“But the other side of things is that guys are go­ing to have to shoot a good score to catch you,” he said. “To go bo­gey-free to­day, I mean, I’d love to do that again to­mor­row. I think some­body would have to play an ex­tremely good round of golf to catch me. Make some pars and make guys come and get you.”

Bri­tish Open cham­pion Hen­rik Sten­son never made a move and strug­gled again get­ting his dis­tance right in the wind, al­low­ing for only a few rea­son­able birdie chances. He had an­other 71 and was seven shots be­hind, along with J.J. Henry (67).

For Had­win, life has never been bet­ter.

It was at In­nis­brook a year ago that he broke his 7-iron against a tree in anger, a start­ing point to learn how to smile more and worry less about golf, which he be­lieves has led to bet­ter scores.

Plus, he’s get­ting mar­ried in two weeks.

A vic­tory, per­haps even sec­ond place alone, might be enough to get Had­win into the Dell Match Play.

He won’t be go­ing ei­ther way be­cause his wed­ding is Fri­day (March 26) of that week.

A vic­tory would get him into the Mas­ters. In that case, the hon­ey­moon might be post­poned.

For now, he’s only think­ing about play­ing good golf Sun­day and forc­ing ev­ery­one to catch him on the tough­est track in Florida (that doesn’t con­vert par5s into par-4s).

Equally com­pelling is the guy Had­win will see on the first tee Sun­day.

Cant­lay was the No. 1 am­a­teur at UCLA who swept all the big awards as a sopho­more, and then shot a 60 in the Trav­el­ers Cham­pi­onship the week after he was low am­a­teur in the U.S. Open at Con­gres­sional. He played four PGA Tour events in sum­mer of 2011 and never fin­ished out of the top 25.

EURO­PEAN TOUR: De­fend­ing cham­pion S.S.P. Chawra­sia, Ed­die Pep­perell and Car­los Pigem shared the lead at 6 un­der in the sus­pended third round of the In­dian Open in New Delhi.

Five-time Asian Tour win­ner Chawra­sia of In­dia, Eng­land’s Pep­perell and Spain’s Pigem com­pleted 11 holes be­fore play was sus­pended be­cause of dark­ness.

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