Canada Day was last week, but try telling that to British Columbia boys’ Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor.
The Canadian pair enjoyed a parade of birdies – and for Taylor even an eagle – on their way to the top of the leaderboard during the first round of the Workday Charity Open in Dublin, Ohio.
Hadwin, 32, who was born in Moose Jaw, posted the low round of the morning wave, a 6-under 66 at Muirfield Village Golf Club to grab a one-stroke lead among early finishers over Taylor, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and American Zach Johnson. Hadwin fired a final-round 67 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday to finish T-4, his best result since the calendar flipped to 2020.
“It’s been building for a while,” he said.
Hadwin got off to an inauspicious start on Thursday with a bogey at No. 10, his first hole of the day, but it turned out to be the only blemish on his card. His reliable putting stroke took care of business, holing a 16-foot birdie at 14 and after stiffing his approach from 173 yards at 18 and from 126 yards at No. 2, Hadwin drilled a 22-footer at 7 and a 19-footer at 9 to finish in style.
Muirfield Village is hosting the PGA Tour back-to-back weeks so the course setup has been adjusted to protect the course for doing double duty. Hadwin said it still isn’t a pushover and he didn’t play more aggressively on a warm, but otherwise picture-perfect day for golf.
“I’m a firm believer in sort of easing myself into weeks and getting more aggressive as that goes along, as you sort of build some comfort with the golf course and with how you’re swinging and stuff,” he said.
Hadwin and Taylor are old pals, who played together as teenagers at Ledgeview Golf and Country Club in their hometown of Abbotsford, B.C. Neither ranks among the longer hitters on Tour, relying instead on precision and a wonderful touch around the greens. They’re also adjusting to life as new parents. Hadwin’s wife, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter Maddox on Jan. 8, while Taylor became a father himself last year. His wife Andie and his son Charlie were waiting by the 18th green when Taylor capped off a four-stroke victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.
Taylor’s bogey-free round of 67 began with a string of six pars before a 2-putt birdie at the par-5 seventh. The 32-year-old canned a 33-foot birdie at 10 and then drilled a fairway wood from 270 yards to 3 feet and made eagle at the par-5 11th. Taylor, who ranked first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, stuck his approach from 150 to 3 feet to close with another birdie.
Taylor’s second career victory ended a six-year drought, and the two-year exemption that comes with it allowed him to pick and choose his schedule and the luxury of skipping the first four events since the Tour resumption in June.
“I just really enjoyed being home, so just waiting an extra few weeks, was great to be home,” he said.
While he surely changed his fair share of diapers for his eight-month-old during his extended break from the Tour, Taylor said he also played a good deal the last month and has his coach with him this week, but nonetheless was pleased with his start.
“I know competitive rust is definitely a thing I’ve had to struggle with in the past,” he said.
Nick Taylor plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the Workday Charity Open golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Photo by Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)
And how did he describe the kinder, gentler Muirfield Village?
“It’s gettable,” Taylor said. “The greens are very soft. The rough is probably not as high as I’ve seen in previous years, but you still have to hit good shots.”