Potomac, MD — For three years, Chesson Hadley got to experience what it was like to be on the PGA TOUR, then at the end of the 2015-16 season, after placing outside of the top 125 in the FedEx Cup, it was all taken away.
“It’s always nice to earn your way back to where you feel like where you belong,” Hadley said. “Success after failure makes it even more memorable and special. The first time, you can never take that away from me, but I think the second time is even sweeter than the first because I tasted it and lost it. There was a lot of things that went into getting back out here. My game got physically better. My attitude got better. Perspective. Everything. Everything’s been a little more well rounded.”
Failure is often a part of life, inevitably it is unavoidable and that especially holds true in golf.
Hadley won the 2014 Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com which gave him a two-year exemption on TOUR, which is crucial considering how hard it is to maintain status following a rookie season.
“I don’t know the turnover rate of rookies out here, but I’ll bet it’s around 50%,” said Hadley. “It is easy to keep your card, It’s not easy to play on the PGA TOUR. It was a challenge. I was just real lucky I won. I played well enough in Puerto Rico in 2014 and I won. I didn’t play particularly well after that, but I learned a lot.”
Failure can be a relative term, but in golf it is important to have a short memory and put it behind you.
It would have been easy for Hadley to give up or allow his play to slide because he did not earn a 2016-17 PGA TOUR card, but instead he was named the 2017 Web.com Tour Player of the Year winning twice, finishing runner-up twice and winning both the season-long and Web.com Tour Finals money list.
“That’s golf,” he said. “If you can have that perspective on every shot, every tee, everything, you’re going to be just fine. You’re going to make a lot of birdies, you’re going to win a lot of golf tournaments, you’re going to make a lot of money. You just have to understand that failure is a part of this game. I failed many times today, you just don’t panic. Just because you make a bad golf swing, you make a bogey, does not mean you’re a bad person, it doesn’t mean you suck at golf, it doesn’t mean any of that. It’s just a bad shot.”
Hadley credits the Web.com Tour for allowing him to get his attitude right and earning some momentum he was able to ride to what many consider one of it not the best seasons.
“You get in a dark place out here,” said Hadley. “You get lonely. You take things personally out here. It is really easy to do. You lose your confidence and you don’t believe in yourself. If golf is who you are, then it can get really lonely really quick out here. There is an attitude that goes into your approach to the shot, your mental game and that’s what I’m referring to.”
Currently Hadley is 19th in the FedEx Cup points race with six top-10 finishes and a tie for 11th at The PLAYERS Championship.
Through thick and thin, Hadley has had two things with him, his caddie Josh Svendsen and the snap. Fans have come to expect the snap after good shots and often Hadley will oblige.
“It’s kind of my fist pump,” he said. “Tiger (Woods) has the fist pump, he looks really good doing it. I’ve decided that’s my way to celebrate. I hope to do it many more times in my career.
On paper, Hadley’s third round at the Quicken Loans National does not stand out as he shot a 2-under par 68, but to an extent it represented his career to this point.
He bogeyed the par-4 first hole missing a drive wide right, hitting a patron and having to sign a golf glove in the process.
After that he birdied three of his next four holes and a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole resulted in his one and only snap of the round.
On the back nine, Hadley had several missed opportunities and recorded two bogeys, before making birdie on the par-3 17th hole.
He is currently tied for 10th place at the event.
“Today was a good example of how things have been going this year,” Hadley said. “I made a bogey on the first hole, and I was able to make some birdies after that. Just hang tough. I allowed some good things to happen, and they did, then I kind of struggled before finishing well. I’m just going to approach tomorrow as an opportunity to get better. We might have a chance to win the golf tournament. We are six back. If I can get off to a good start, and take advantage of some of the holes on the back nine, you never know.”
It has been a challenging journey for Hadley to get to where he is at. One which clear has been filled with both success and failures.
Earlier in the week, Tiger Woods described one shot as him not being fully committed to a shot and Hadley found similarities with the issue.
At the end of the day, Hadley chalks it up to something which he can relate well to, that it is just hard to be on all of the time.
“It’s very difficult to play 72 holes and be committed to every shot,” said Hadley. “I don’t know if I’ve ever done that, I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that. If you get over the shot and you feel 5% uncomfortable. I bet the 5% translates into you going 50/50 to execute the shot successfully.”