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Canada's Adam Hadwin joined by Blue Jays pitchers at Valspar Championship

Adam Hadwin, a lifelong Blue Jays fan, was floored when he was introduced to the honorary observers that would be following his pairing in the final round of the Valspar Championship on Sunday: Toronto relievers Ryan Borucki and Jordan Romano.
Adam Hadwin, of Canada, hits from the fringe on the second hole during the final round of the Valspar Championship golf tournament Sunday, March 20, 2022, at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara

Adam Hadwin, a lifelong Blue Jays fan, was floored when he was introduced to the honorary observers that would be following his pairing in the final round of the Valspar Championship on Sunday: Toronto relievers Ryan Borucki and Jordan Romano.

"There was some guys standing on the tee and I just kind of went up and I didn't recognize them, I had no idea who they were," said Hadwin, who threw out the first pitch before a Jays game at Rogers Centre in July 2018.

"Ryan introduced himself and I kind of had to do like a triple take and I'm like wait a second, I know that name!"

Borucki, who said he watches the PGA Tour almost every weekend, said it was a really cool moment for him and Romano, who is from Markham, Ont.

"Right when I introduced myself, I said, 'Hey, my name is Ryan Borucki. This is Jordan Romano,' and Adam's like, 'Wait, really? Like no way,'" said Borucki. "It was just a cool feeling because I idolize PGA golfers and just that he knew who me and Jordan were.

"I remember he walked away and me and Jordan were like 'that was really cool.'" 

Borucki and Romano are self-professed "very avid golf fans" and are currently attending Blue Jays spring training camp in Dunedin, Fla., a short 20-minute drive from Innisbrook Golf Club, the host facility for the Valspar Championship.

When the two pitchers were told they had the option of trailing Hadwin for the day, the choice was obvious.

"We've got to go with Hadwin. Obviously, Canadian guy, we know that he's a huge Blue Jays fan. We have to support our guy," said Borucki. "The minute we met him, he's such a good guy, so friendly.

"He was so good to us while we were out there and it was really a pleasure being able to follow him the entire round."

Hadwin, from Abbotsford, B.C., started the fourth day of the event in contention but shot a 1-over 72 in the final round to tie for seventh. He finished at 12 under overall five shots back of eventual winner Sam Burns, who beat Davis Riley in a playoff.

"I hope they enjoyed the day," said Hadwin of the Blue Jays pitchers. "I wish I had played a little bit better in front of them but it was amazing having a couple guys from the team that I root for support me during that final round."

Borucki, who had only attended one PGA Tour event in person before, loved his time on the course with Hadwin.

"Being able to walk inside the ropes is just an experience in itself." said Borucki. "It was definitely one of the best days of my life as a baseball player, and as a PGA Tour fan. Oh, I was in heaven out there."

Although he was disappointed in his final result, it was Hadwin's second consecutive top-10 finish. He tied for ninth at the Players' Championship the previous week. The two strong showings elevated him up to 44th in the FedEx Cup rankings on Monday.

"Coming into this season I was making a concerted effort to pick up my iron play a little bit," said Hadwin. "So with the more concerted effort I've hit more greens, given myself more birdie putts. 

"I was able to do that the last couple of weeks through some golf courses that aren't exactly easy in some situations."

GOLF CANADA — Canada's golf community continues to rally around Dayton Price of Mississauga, Ont., and Hayden Underhill of Amherstview, Ont., after they survived a horrific car crash where seven members of the University of Southwest's golf team were killed. GoFundMe pages setup for the two collegiate golfers have raised over US$170,000 for Price and more than $105,000 for Underhill. PGA Tour players Nick Taylor and Mackenzie Hughes promised to donate $500 for every birdie they made at the Valspar Championship, with Taylor making 12 and Hughes making seven.

WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS — Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., and Hughes of Dundas, Ont., are the only Canadians in the Dell Technologies Match Play event at Austin Country Club in Texas. Conners beat Paul Casey in Wednesday's first round after the Englishman conceded. Hughes lost to Dustin Johnson 3&2 in his first matchup of the event.

PUNTACANA CHAMPIONSHIP — Adam Svensson of Surrey, B.C., is the highest ranked Canadian competing at this week's Corales Puntacana Championship as the PGA Tour heads to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. He's 93rd in the FedEx Cup rankings. Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., and Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., are also in the field.

KORN FERRY TOUR — Vancouver's Stuart Macdonald is the lone Canadian competing in the Lake Charles Championship in Louisiana on Thursday. Macdonald is 117th in the second-tier tour's rankings after tying for 33rd at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open last week.

LPGA TOUR — Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., leads the Canadian contingent into the LPGA Tour's Kia Classic on Thursday at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, Calif. Leblanc is 48th in the Race to the CME Globe standings. Maddie Szeryk of London, Ont., will make her first tour appearance of the season in the event.

EPSON TOUR — Calgary's Jaclyn Lee is the highest ranked Canadian on the second-tier Epson Tour, currently sitting 20th after tying for 12th at last week's Carlisle Arizona Women's Golf Classic. Lee will be back in action this Friday at the IOA Championship hosted by the Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. Selena Costabile of Thornhill, Ont.,. is also in the field. She sits 39th in the Epson Tour rankings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press