For Abbotsford professional golfers Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin, 2014 was a year that will be hard to top.
Twelve months ago, the Ledgeview junior golf program graduates were preparing for what promised to be a strenuous year on the Web.com Tour, the circuit one step below the PGA Tour where players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson swing their clubs.
Taylor was entering his first Web.com season, while Hadwin was gearing up for his third year after finishing 66th the previous season.
Fast forward a year and the pair are back in Abbotsford decompressing after the best seasons of their respective golf careers.
While both players would have entered last season hoping to earn PGA Tour Cards and the right to regularly compete on their sport’s biggest stage, both Hadwin and Taylor reached that goal, and then blew past it.
Hadwin earned his card by winning two tournaments and finishing at the very top of the circuit’s money list, with total winnings of $529,792, nearly seven times what he made the previous year. When the PGA Tour started its new season in October, Hadwin picked up where he left off, finishing 10th and winning more than $130,000 in just his second tournament. He also made four of five cuts during the abbreviated fall PGA schedule.
“It was a great year, by far and above the best year I’ve had as a professional,” Hadwin said. “It sort of all came together.”
Taylor, meanwhile, claimed his card by finishing 18th in the Web.com playoffs after a difficult start to the year. And like Hadwin, Taylor found the PGA Tour to his liking. Not only did he also make four of five cuts, but he won the fourth tournament he entered. In becoming the first Canadian to claim a PGA victory in more than five years, not only did Taylor claim a paycheque of $720,000, but he also gained exempt status for three years on the PGA Tour.
If, in the summer, he was told that in just six months he’d be guaranteed three years of PGA play, “I probably would have thought you were crazy,” he said.
In the spring, Taylor also found the time to get married, and in September, he and Hadwin pulled on Vancouver Canucks jerseys and took part in the ceremonial opening faceoff before a game at Rogers Arena. “It’s been pretty incredible,” Taylor said.
With regular tour play taking a break between mid-November and January, the golfers have been trying to unwind after the biggest professional year of their respective careers.
While Hadwin has been in Phoenix, relaxing with friends and doing some light training, Taylor recently returned from Aruba, where he and his wife had taken a belated honeymoon.
The last year may have been great, but Taylor said it also left him exhausted mentally.
“My brain was just fried,” he said. “I was definitely burned out and the breaks are nice.”
Both golfers are now back in Abbotsford for the holidays.
“My mom would kill me if I wasn’t home for Christmas,” Hadwin said.
By early January, Hadwin will be back in Phoenix and ramping up his training regimen. While he doesn’t set results-oriented goals, he said he hopes to continue improving his pre-tournament preparation and time management. At the same time, he wants to enjoy some of the travel that playing on the tour demands of players and is particularly looking forward to travelling to Hawaii.
“I’ve been striving to get to the PGA Tour… and I’m looking forward to competing against them week in and week out.”
Taylor, for his part, said he’s hoping to ease himself back into the tour, with his exempt status relieving some of the week-to-week pressure he felt last year. He also said the PGA’s tougher courses actually suit his game better than the Web.com tour, where players often had to post very low scores just to make the cut.
While both golfers’ careers have taken off in the past six months, they say their lives haven’t changed much away from the golf course.
“I’ve got a good real close group of friends,” Hadwin said. “They don’t really look at me as a PGA player … It’s just a job.”
Taylor agreed. “That’s the best thing about golf,” he said. “If you have success you might be recognized at a golf course, but outside of that, nothing’s changed … Which is probably the best part.”