Hadwin wins to earn Masters invite

Adam Hadwin reacts after winning the Valspar Championship.

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Adam Hadwin had no problem saying the words “Masters Tournament” on Sunday after hanging on to win the Valspar Championship.

Hadwin, who beat Patrick Cantlay by a shot following even-par 71, used a euphemism for the Masters on the eve of the final round when he held a four-shot lead over Cantlay. He simply called it the “greenest place on the earth.”

Hadwin, who played his college golf at Louisville, is now headed to Augusta National Golf Club, qualifying as a PGA Tour winner after finishing at 14-under 270 at Innisbrook’s Copperhead course.

It will be his first Masters appearance. Cantlay played once at Augusta National, as an amateur, in 2012.

“This is pretty incredible,” Hadwin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun in three weeks. I think it will really hit me on my first drive down Magnolia Lane.”

The Masters appearance will serve as a wedding present of sorts. His wedding date is March 24 and he’ll spend what was scheduled to be his honeymoon at Augusta National instead of French Polynesia the week before the Masters preparing for the Masters.

“I hope I can get my deposit back (from the Four Seasons hotel),” he said of the altered honeymoon plans. “I understand I won a nice check this week ($1.1 million), but I don’t like to throw money away.”

As for the Masters, he plans to ask fellow Canadian Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champ, “how did you get it done?”

Cantlay, who has played just three PGA Tour events in the past three years because of a stress fracture in his back, closed with 68. He was tied with Hadwin going to the final hole, but hit his approach in a greenside bunker and couldn’t make a 15-footer for par. Hadwin hit a “bladed wedge” from the fringe to within 2 feet and made it for par.

“I was sure he was going to make that putt,” Hadwin said of Cantlay.

Cantlay birdied five of six holes during the middle of the round to keep the pressure on Hadwin.

“He just kept coming,” Hadwin said.

“I caught him and gave it to him at the end,” said Cantlay, who also would have qualified for the Masters with the victory. “My game’s good. I’m excited to play tournament golf and I’ll try to win the next one.”

Hadwin was cruising along with a two-shot lead over Cantlay through 15 holes when he hit his tee shot into the water on No. 16 and made double bogey.

Cantlay had a par, setting up the dramatics on the final hole.

Hadwin also held the 54-hole lead earlier this season in the CareerBuilder Championship after a third-round 59, but finished second to Hudson Swafford. This time, he got it done.

“I’ve worked my butt off to get here,” Hadwin said. “I’ve slowly improved each and every year. I’ve won at every tour level that I’ve been on and now I can myself a PGA Tour winner.”

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