Adam Hadwin is headed to the PGA Tour or Nationwide Tour next year, but he's got time before he goes for one last spin on the circuit where he made his professional breakthrough.
Hadwin of Abbotsford, B.C., is defending his title at the Canadian Tour's season-ending Desert Dunes Classic this week in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. The 24-year-old opened Thursday with an even-par 72 that left him eight shots behind leader Stuart Anderson of Sooke, B.C.
"Wasn't the best of days but taking positives and moving on," tweeted Hadwin.
Anderson, who captured the Tour championship in August and comes into the event following a tie for third at the first stage of PGA Q-School, shot a bogey-free round of 8-under 64 to grab a three stroke lead after the opening round.
"I'm just happy - my game, my life - everything about it is going well," said Anderson. "I want to have a good week here and then get some practice in next week and then do well at second stage (of PGA Q-School)."
The Desert Dunes Classic, which wraps up Sunday, is the tournament that sent Hadwin's career on an upward trajectory that continued into early 2011 with another Canadian Tour title and strong performances on South Africa's Sunshine Tour. He then rocketed to another level (or two) in the summer by making the cut in five PGA Tour starts and earning more than $440,000 (U.S.).
His success included a tie for fourth place at the RBC Canadian Open, in front of home fans in Vancouver.
His performances caught the eye of PGA Tour officials, who've offered him entry into the final stage of its qualifying tournament, or Q-school, this month. He can earn a full-time 2012 PGA card by finishing in the top 25 at Q-school, but is assured of at least some form of status on the lower-tier Nationwide if he's 26th or higher.
Hadwin, now Canada's top-ranked male golfer, is ready for the next step.
"I know I will get out there," Hadwin told media in Desert Hot Springs this week, speaking of the PGA Tour. "I'm still young. I don't know when I'll get out there, but I know I will."
Jim Rutledge of Victoria, B.C., who is using this event as a tune up for the upcoming Champions Tour Q-School, opened with an even par 72.
Four time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III (72), former NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr (80), NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (83), MLB Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (89) and ex-NHL tough guy Marty McSorley (95) are among the star studded cast of professional and amateur celebrity golfers given sponsors exemptions into this week's event.