Chesson Hadley had to learn to forget in PGA Tour comeback

By Garry Smits
Published on
Chesson Hadley had to learn to forget in PGA Tour comeback

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GA. — Chesson Hadley didn't get back to the PGA Tour until he found out how to have a short memory.

Now, it looks like the Georgia Tech graduate is back to stay.

Hadley was voted the Tour player of the year by the membership, after becoming the first player to win both the regular-season and Finals money lists in 2017.

Hadley won twice, with one of them coming during the Finals. He also posted a tie for second and a 10th in two other Finals events. He led the Tour in earnings with $562,475, more than $160,000 clear of second-place Brice Garnett, and earned an exemption into The Players Championship.

Hadley won the Tour Championship at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley course in 2013 to cement his PGA Tour card for the first time, and won early the next season in Puerto Rico. However, he lost his status with a nightmarish 2016 season in which he missed 14 of 27 cuts.

Hadley improved his greens in regulation from .653 in 2016 on the PGA Tour to .727 last season on the Tour. He was 126th on the PGA Tour in putts per green in regulation (1.783) but 21st on the Tour last season (1.743).

But he said his comeback was mostly attitude adjustment and had to overcome difficulty putting bad shots, bad rounds and bad tournaments in the past and moving on.

"I'm not as hard on myself," he said. "I'm letting things go. When you don't freak out as much you relax a little bit more. Making putts was a big part of it but the attitude, relaxing ... I forgot how to think on the course. A bad tournament doesn't make me several months to regroup. It takes a day."

Hadley hasn't missed a beat during the Tour's fall season. He has a tie for third, a solo second and a tie for fourth heading into the RSM Classic.

"2016 was not fun," he said. "To have this going on is really special."

Tradition started

A tradition has been launched at the RSM Classic: the revelation of the Tour player of the year on the eve of the PGA Tour's fall event at the Sea Island Club.

Hadley became the third player of the year to be announced at Sea Island and David Brown, the CEO of the Jacksonville-based, said he would like to see the practice continue each year.

With the help of the Sea Island Club and tournament sponsors, the ceremony was done up right. All past Tour players of the year in the tournament field were invited to attend and six of the eight showed up: Brendon de Jonge, Stewart Cink, Jason Gore, Ken Duke and Jamie Lovemark.

Dawgs running wild

One thing can be certain the week of the RSM Classic: past members of the University of Georgia golf team will be in contention.

Leader Chris Kirk and Hudson Swafford, tied for third, topped the Bulldog continent in the tournament. Other former 'Dawgs in contention are Keith Mitchell (67), Kevin Kisner (67) and Brian Harman (69).

"It's big Georgia territory out here on St. Simons, for sure," said Kirk, who was sporting a UGA hat. "Hopefully my hat will bring me some luck the rest of the week."

Swafford, Harman and another former Georgia player, Bubba Watson (71) played in the same group.

"We had a great little crowd of Dawgs," Swafford said. "Saw a lot of red, seeing a lot of Gs, so it was good."

Dahmen lobbies for sponsor

Joel Dahmen, a recent Tour graduate to the PGA Tour, is playing out of a stand bag and also doesn't have a hat sponsor.

He's available.

"I'm a free agent ... I'm open," the former University of Washington player said after his 64 to finish second to Kirk. "With no real sponsors at the moment, I'm kind of letting everybody know I'm out there, so call me."

Dahmen was the 49th player out of 50 on the priority list coming out of the 2017 Tour season. He's made two of four cuts and has his best finish with a tie for 23rd last week in Mexico.

This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to