Chesson Hadley has come a long way since those days when he was a tall skinny kid at Georgia Tech. Now he’s a tall, skinny professional who has been named the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year.
Hadley won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2013 and earned his PGA TOUR card. He broke through with a win at Puerto Rico Open, one of four top-10s, and earned $1.7 million and just missed qualifying for the TOUR Championship.
“It’s a privilege, and it’s really cool to be on the PGA TOUR, let alone win Rookie of the Year,” Hadley said. “Obviously that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t have people voting for me, so thank you very much for all my peers who voted for me, and thank you to everybody who has been a part of this throughout my career, and obviously congrats to Rory (McIlroy) on Player of the Year. That’s outstanding. It’s a privilege, and I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to getting going next year.”
Hadley said one of the most difficult adjustments was learning the new circuit of golf courses. He had not seen many of the venues before arriving at them this year.
“I think the biggest adjustment was getting used to the courses,” he said.
“I hadn’t seen any of these courses before, and that’s nothing new going to a place, trying to figure out these courses, but they’re harder, they’re longer, they’re firmer, they’re faster. There’s definitely an adjustment as far as game plan and kind of mindset going into the tournament because 20 under isn’t going to win many of these golf tournaments, so par is a really good score on the PGA TOUR. So that was probably my biggest adjustment.”
The victory gives Hadley a two-year exemption on TOUR and alleviates some of the pressure felt by a young player.
“The win was huge because it allows me to pick and choose a little bit,” he said. “I have some security, which is everything in a young career. To know I have two more years out on TOUR is nice. I’d like to think it’s not going to be a problem. I would like to think I’m not going to be struggling with status, but you never know, this is a tough game. But it’s nice knowing I can pick and choose my schedule a little bit.”
Hadley has learned the consistency is the key to long-term success on the PGA TOUR. All players have ups and downs, but the ones who show consistency are more apt to survive.
“I think everybody is always searching for that key, that formula,” he said. “So much about this game surrounds putting, and I don’t feel like I was putting particularly well during those poor stretches, and I’m sure the statistics back that up. Just from teeing it up next year on TOUR, I’m going to be a better player just because of the experience I gained this year with playing some veterans and picking their brain about how they’ve handled things and getting in contention and handling stuff.”
The season starts Oct. 6-12 at the Frys.com Open in Napa, Calif., so Hadley has little down time. That’s OK with him. He likes the wrap-around schedule and enjoys competing.
“I love playing golf tournaments,” he said. “I love traveling to these places and experiencing the new cities, so I love it. Even from a golf standpoint, if you’re not playing well, OK, you finish the season, you have some time off, you can go work on your game, and then you’re excited to get back into it. It’s a new start, and the same thing can be the same if you’re playing well. You just kind of feel like you carry the momentum into the start of the new season. So I’m excited about getting over to Napa for the Frys.com Open, and I love it.”