For the past 83 years, the Masters has been recognized as the crown jewel of the golf world.
Millions will be watching the event around the world, which sees golfers battle it out for a $10 million purse.
Winners also receive a prestigious green jacket, one of the most recognizable articles of clothing in sports.
No golfer with an Abbotsford connection has ever teed off at the event – until this year.
Come Thursday, Adam Hadwin can finally focus on the biggest golf tournament on the planet.
A whirlwind month of March saw the Ledgeview Golf and Country Club product score his first PGA Tour win at the Valspar Championship on March 11 and then place sixth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 19. He also joined the rarefied “59” club when he shot 13-under par during the third round of the CareerBuilder Challenge in January.
The win at Valspar qualified him for the prestigious Masters tournament.
He also managed to fit in time to tie the knot with his wife Jessica on March 24 and purchase a new home.
“March has been a pretty crazy month,” he said during a conference call to Canadian media. “But it’s all very good things happening.”
Hadwin played a practice round at the fabled Masters course in Augusta, Ga. on Sunday, and then played another warm-up round on Tuesday with fellow Canadians Mackenzie Hughes and Mike Weir, who in 2003 became the first-ever Canadian to win the tournament.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 4, 2017
It’ll be the Masters debut for Hadwin, who admitted he’s been fascinated by the tournament from an early age. He pointed to Tiger Woods performance back in 1997 as a memorable tournament.
“The way he destroyed the field and just ran away with things was amazing,” he recalled. “He wanted to win by 15, not one or two. He made the game look so easy. I was only 10 but that really stood out to me.”
He also mentioned Weir’s win in 2003 as one he’ll never forget.
He said he’s excited to compete at Augusta, but that he doesn’t want to treat it any differently than any other tournament.
“Being a part of the history and tradition that the Masters has, if I can’t get up for that I don’t know what event I would be able to get up for,” he said. “It’s been a little difficult to settle and focus, but now that everything is laid down I can just focus. I’m not approaching it any differently, I want to focus on preparing my game the best I can and play with confidence.”
He said being able to compete at the Masters is a special honour.
“The way I view it is that to get into the Masters you have to have done something special,” he said, referring to the tournament’s entry rules, which include a top-ranking or winning a previous PGA tournament or Masters. “The Masters has this ‘winners only’ or ‘great players only’ type of feel to it. You’ve had to do something extremely special to get into it… I just think it has a little bit of heightened prestige around it.”
As far as strategy goes, Hadwin said he has confidence to play both aggressive and conservatively. He said several of the Masters par five holes will challenge his golf IQ.
“I want to stay aggressive, but I’m very conservatively aggressive if that makes sense,” he said. “I think I’ve done a great job doing that, especially on par five’s. When its warranted I’m aggressive, otherwise I lay up. My wedges have been so good so I have full confidence I can do either.”
Hadwin will tee off on Thursday in a group with American Zach Johnson and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen at 6:06 a.m. Abbotsford time. The group then tees off on round two on Friday at 9:24 a.m. Abbotsford time. Cuts will be made after Friday, with the groupings reordered by score.
One event that couldn’t fit into Hadwin’s packed March was his honeymoon.
The pair had originally planned to embark on a tropical honeymoon, but after the win in Valspara, plans changed and instead of boarding a plane to the South Pacific, the Hadwins will be in Augusta.
“Jessica is probably not as excited as I am,” he said. “I think she’d rather be in Bora Bora right now, but we’re both excited. It’s going to be a great week and certainly, we’re always going to remember this first one.”
He said the honeymoon has been rescheduled for after the Masters.
Hadwin, who grew up in Abbotsford and honed his golf game at Ledgeview, is still very much on the mind at his home course.
This past summer Hadwin stopped by Ledgeview to teach junior members putting tips. It’s Masters Week at the course’s clubhouse, with the new restaraunt officially opening up on April 1, and set to cheer on their homegrown product.
Hadwin said there will be some nerves, especially when he lines up on that very first tee box, but he comes to the event with confidence.
“I don’t want to let the aura or prestige make me think I can’t compete,” he said. “I need to treat it like any other event, and know that I can fit my game to match any golf course.”
He also admitted that, growing up, he’s imagined himself winning a prestigious green jacket, which is awarded to the winner each year along with a first-place cheque for $1.8 million.
“I’ve made many a putt to win the Masters while practising,” he joked.
“I’m going to go in there with confidence – I’ve had some success against great fields, so it’s just a matter of preparing the best I can and seeing where my game stacks up against the best players.
“It’s going to be a great week, it really is.”
Visit abbynews.com for ongoing coverage of Hadwin’s performance at the Masters.