With one Presidents Cup behind him, Adam Hadwin has the benefit of hindsight to draw on and he knows what to expect at this year’s edition down under in Australia.
On the other hand, there are still some questions that won’t actually be answered until the proceedings get underway at Royal Melbourne.
His first appearance two years ago at Liberty National in New Jersey saw Hadwin finished with an unimpressive 0-2-1 record as his International team lost convincingly, 19-11 to the Americans.
“I know sort of what a draining week it is emotionally, a little bit. You go through a lot of highs and lows and the ability to kind of stay even keel throughout the week and preserve energy for deep in the matches is key and I certainly kind of learned that from the first one a couple years ago,” said Hadwin, a captain’s pick by Ernie Els a few weeks ago.
“I’ve got some work to do,” he said.
“I didn’t feel like I played up to my level a couple years ago in New York and obviously, the team didn’t go as well as we wanted as a team either, so there’s a lot to make up for this week,” said Hadwin.
“I want to go out and prove for myself and make sure that Ernie knows that he made a right choice. I feel having been picked this year, it’s a little on me to kind of prove myself a little bit more. I’m going to relish that role, but certainly looking forward to providing for this team,” he said.
So, Hadwin goes in knowing how to deal with the pressure mentally from last time and what’s expected of him this time around. He also knows that a fast start is critical against the heavily-favoured U.S. team.
“I think it’s going to be huge for us,” he said.
“The switch of formats with the better ball going first now, I think could help. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens on Thursday, but certainly get off to a good start, get those first couple matches going our way, make a few putts, get the crowd behind us and kind of get some momentum early,” added Hadwin.
“It’s something that we haven’t had in previous Presidents Cups and hopefully, we can turn the tide this year.
This year’s Presidents Cup is likely to be much different than his last one in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty and one of the wild cards is that crowd the Internationals want to get jacked-up early in the competition.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Hadwin.
“I would hope that we’re going to get a home crowd atmosphere. I think that’s what the whole team is. I know that Marc (Leishman) and Cam (Smith) kind of spoke about that last week at the Australian Open, but hopefully, they get behind us and cheer us on. It’s tough,” he added.
“New York was a hostile environment a couple years ago. Those fans are nasty at the best times – in a good way. It’s going to be up to us. If we can get them on our side early, then we’ll be able to kind of carry that momentum through,” said Hadwin.
Before the games begin, players will be out assessing what they can expect from Royal Melbourne, built on a sandbelt.
Tee shots will be more about position as compared to distance and the slick greens will put a premium not only on putting, but approach shots. Royal Melbourne is also renowned for it tough and plentiful bunkers. For a hole-by-hole of Royal Melbourne,” click here.
“It’s great. It’s a good golf course,” said Hadwin.
“It’s going to challenge all parts of your game. You’re going to have to be ready to play. I think you can be aggressive at some times and you’ll probably see that during some of the better ball-formats, but during foursomes, keep it in front of you, get it on, give yourself a chance for par really and you’re going to have a good shot at winning some holes out there,” he said.
“I’m sure now that we’ve had a chance to kind of see how the golf course plays and all that, we’ll certainly go over strategy a little bit more the next couple nights, certain holes, when to lay back, when to go for it, different formats, that type of thing,” he said.
What is expected, at least before play begins, is that the powerful U.S. team will improve on its 10-1-1 record in the Presidents Cup.
As Hadwin knows from last time, the Americans are powerful every year, but this year, the Internationals come in with seven Presidents Cup rookies. While an American victory is what’s expected, Hadwin believes the unexpected could surprise the stars and stripes and David can slay Goliath.
“This is a new week,” he said.
“Whatever has happened in the past, it’s happened. Obviously, there are some scars for some of these guys who have played a number of them now. We’ve got seven rookies, so those guys don’t know what’s happened so far. They’re coming in fresh this week. I’ve only played one,” said Hadwin.
“We just have to play good golf. Obviously, the American team is strong – we know that. They’re the best players in the world, right?,” he added.
“On paper, we’re going to get hammered this week, but I think we’re doing a good job of coming together, playing with each other, gelling as a team, understanding each other’s games. We’re playing for one shield, a new flag this year. It’s exciting. It’s going to be a fun week, and we’ve got a good chance if we put it all together,” said Hadwin.
Canadian Golf Hall of Fame member and former PGA Tour player Richard Zokol offers his Presidents Cup perspective here.