Rex Open golfer ‘living the dream’

calexander@newsobserver.comJune 17, 2013 


POTOMAC, MD - JUNE 02: Chesson Hadley hits his tee shot on the third hole during the Final Round of the Tour Mid-Atlantic Championship on June 2, 2013 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)


  • Rex Hospital Open

    What: Tour tournament

    When: Thursday-Sunday

    Where: TPC Wakefield Plantation, Raleigh

    Ticket, parking information:

Chesson Hadley firmly believes in divine intervention. He also believes in taking advantage of it.

That Hadley will be playing in the Rex Hospital Open this week has a lot to do with the honesty of another golfer, Blayne Barber. But some good, honest, hard work by Hadley has gotten the Raleigh native on the Tour and could make him a contender at TPC Wakefield Plantation, in Raleigh.

Hadley, the 2010 ACC champion and a former All-America at Georgia Tech, is playing some of the best golf of his young pro career. Before last week’s Air Capital Classic in Wichita, Kansas, he had three consecutive top-six finishes and had moved into the top 10 on the tour’s money list with more than $137,000.

“I’m living the dream, living it every day,” Hadley said in an interview.

For the past two years, Hadley was making his living – or trying to – on the eGolf Tour, paying entry fees each event and hoping to win back a lot more than he paid in. Last year, he entered the PGA Tour’s Qualifying Tournament, only to fall one shot short of advancing out of the first stage of qualifying.

And then he did.

About a week later, Barber called PGA Tour officials. The former Auburn All-America explained he had signed an incorrect scorecard in the final round. He said he had taken a one-shot penalty instead of a two-shot penalty when he brushed a leaf in a bunker with his sand wedge.

Barber’s self-disqualification meant five players were bumped up one position in qualifying, thus moving into the second stage of Q-School. One was Hadley, who went on to earn his playing status on the Tour.

“I really believe the Lord orchestrated everything,” said Hadley, a devout Christian. “Blayne was His tool. I don’t know why God chose me. I don’t get it. It blows my mind, but I hope to never take anything for granted.

“Blayne deserves all the credit for what he did. I still had to go out and play well, and I tried my best. Hopefully, we’ll both be playing on the PGA Tour one day soon.”

Hadley may be there next year. The top 25 money winners on the Tour qualify for PGA Tour cards. That’s his goal and he has a good start.

For much of this year, Hadley was making cuts but not making the most of it. He had good rounds but couldn’t put four good ones together.

“Then,” he said, “the putter woke up.”

Hadley used a 65-63 finish last month to tie for third in the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greer, S.C. In the last round, he had a 27 on the front nine at Thornblade Club, tying the tour’s nine-hole record and bringing a very low number – something in the 50s – conceivably into play.

Hadley didn’t keep the momentum going and bogeyed the last hole to shoot 63, but had no complaints.

“I really don’t look back at what could have been,” he said. “Sure, it would have been nice to shoot 59 or 57 or whatever, but those two rounds were the jump-start to my year. Now I want to let it ride as long as I can.”

Hadley followed with a tie for sixth in the Mexico Championship, then was second in the Mid-Atlantic Championship in Potomac, Md. He missed the cut in Wichita but was eager to get back home and play.

Hadley’s parents are members at North Ridge Country Club, but the former North Raleigh Christian Academy standout knows his way around the Wakefield course. He recently put in a practice round and liked what he saw.

“There isn’t a bad hole on the course and the greens were perfect,” he said. “I just want to try and enjoy myself. If I do, I should play well in front of the hometown crowd.”

Hadley’s wife, Amanda, also is from Raleigh and the two are expecting their first child in the fall. They didn’t have to find a host family to stay with this week – Hadley’s routine at other tour stops – and can feast on some home cooking.

Hadley also hoped to have a few extra house guests this week. A couple of good friends: Blayne Barber and his wife, Morgan.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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