Coming off a top-10 finish in the PGA Tour stop in New Orleans, Chesson Hadley is working in a brief vacation this week.
In Raleigh, naturally.
“To me, just coming home is a vacation,” Hadley said. “Sleep in my bed, drive my truck, go fishing.”
To be sure, Hadley would like to be competing this week in the WGC Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco. But the 2014 PGA Tour rookie of the year was not high enough in the World Golf Ranking – he’s currently No. 106 – to qualify and is spending time with his family in Raleigh before heading to The Players Championship next week.
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That’s not to say Hadley is having a poor second year on tour. The Raleigh native used a 66-66 finish this past weekend to tie for eighth in the Zurich Classic. He’s 63rd on the tour money list with more than $835,000 and 66th in FedExCup points.
On Wednesday, Hadley was at TPC-Wakefield Plantation to help support and promote the 2015 Rex Hospital Open, a Web.com Tour event to be played the last week of May. Hadley was born at Rex Hospital, as was his son, Hughes, and it was his victory in the Rex Hospital Open two years ago that helped springboard the former Georgia Tech All-America onto the PGA Tour.
Hadley, 27, won the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour as a rookie but says his win in the Rex was his biggest golf accomplishment, coming in front of a host of family and friends.
“It was always my dream to win on the PGA Tour ,” he said. “But to win here in 2013, that’s the trophy I sleep with. That’s the centerpiece on display in our house.
“Winning here provided me with a comfort level. The rest of the year was just gravy. It allowed me to kind of decompress a little bit and then I was energized late in the year.”
Hadley would win again in 2013 at the Web.com Tour Championship. With a PGA Tour exemption in 2014, he was out among golf’s best, playing at the highest level, tying for fifth in his second tournament and winning in his 11th tour start of the year.
The win in Puerto Rico gave him a two-year tour exemption and more security, allowing him to set a schedule. He won more than $1.7 million and qualified for the FedExCup playoffs last year but wasn’t happy about missing the cut in 16 of 29 tournaments.
“That’s pathetic,” Hadley said. “I’ve been way more consistent this year in my play, eliminating the big mistakes so I can be more competitive. That’s what you want to see. Even though you may not win, you can’t measure success all the time on winning and get wrapped up in that. Just try to improve a little bit each tournament.”
Hadley changed caddies this year, hiring Josh Dickinson. His father caddied at Puerto Rico as Hadley defended his title, but that was a one-and-done.
“I want to win majors”
Taking a more positive, aggressive approach in recent tournaments, Hadley tied for fourth in the Valero Texas Open late last month and then had the strong finish in New Orleans. He also has set some high goals.
“I want to win majors,” he said. “I want to win all four majors, I want to be the best. Most guys in my position would say the same.”
Jordan Spieth is the year’s biggest story on tour and has his first major. At 21, he’s now a Masters champion and has been making the rounds showing off his new green jacket.
“That was incredible,” Hadley said. “To lead wire-to-wire like that … he’s really special. He’s very mature, a great guy from an awesome family. There’s nothing bad you can say about the kid.”
Hadley smiled, adding, “I can say he’s a kid. I’m six years older than him.”
Hadley travels on the tour with his wife, Amanda, and Hughes – the photo of Hughes Hadley tucked inside the Puerto Rico Open trophy went viral last year. But being on the road so much with family has its challenges, Chesson said.
“You know, hauling the stroller and the car seat and his luggage and our luggage and he’s screaming and he wants food … it’s a circus going through the airport,” Hadley said. “But we’ve got it down to a science now. We know what we’re doing. It’s a lot of fun.”
2015 Rex Hospital Open
What: Web.com Tour event
When: May 28-31.
Where: TPC-Wakefield Plantation, Raleigh.