VANCOUVER - It appeared the pressure and nerves had finally got the best of Adam Hadwin.
Coming into the final round of the RBC Canadian Open, Hadwin was in contention to become the first Canadian to win the national championship in 57 years. But he bogeyed the first hole Sunday, and a 4 over on the front nine saw him slip down the leaderboard.
However, the self-assured 23 year old from Abbotsford, B.C., bounced back on the back nine at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club for a final round of 2 over, and a tie for fourth at 2-under 278.
"I think the day might have been a lot different had I rolled that first put in," Hadwin said. "I think I would've just continued doing what I was doing, but I recovered."
Hadwin came into Sunday's final round fresh off a 2 under 68 that left him just a shot back of leader Bo Van Pelt and with designs of being the first Canadian to win the event since Pat Fletcher in 1954, when the tournament was held at Point Grey in Vancouver.
While his rough front nine kept him from the top of the leaderboard -- he finished two stroked back of eventual winner Sean O'Hair, who won in a playoff -- he easily captured the River Mead Cup for the second consecutive year as the lowest-scoring Canadian.
He finished tied with Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy and collected US$228,800.
"I might have a few beers," Hadwin joked. "I've got a flight to book, I've got some hotels to book now - I don't know, just pad the bank account and keep it high, who knows."
Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., was the last Canadian to make a serious challenge for the title, losing in a playoff to Vijay Singh in 2004.
Hadwin also bogeyed No. 6, No. 8 and No. 11 before rebounding for three straight birdies on the back nine.
"I hit a bad tee shot on No. 11, recovered and made my bogey and really stepped it up and put my game in to over drive from there," he said.
On No. 12, Hadwin's eight-iron tee-shot landed just over two feet from the hole, and he birdied to drop to 4 over for the day. Then on No. 13 after his 317-yard tee shot, the lone Canadian on the leaderboard sunk a 10-foot putt with his third shot to drop him 3 over.
The highlight of his fourth round came on No. 14. After his 196-yard tee shot, Hadwin found himself in a position for a third straight birdie and drained a long 25-foot putt much to the delight of the large following he had throughout the day.
"I called on my caddy (Brett Saunders) today, he was very good, he keeps me level," Hadwin said. "He keeps me focused on the right things, he's always saying the right things.
"It's always a process for us and it paid off in the end."
As he approached the green on No. 18, many of the spectators in the assembled gallery, which included his mother and younger brother Kyle, were on their feet.
"It's pretty special, I got to experience it a little bit last year at St. George's, but being in a final group, it's a little bit different and it sends chills down your spine and it's a pretty neat feeling."
Van Pelt and Andres Romero, who were also part of the final group, allowed Hadwin to approach the green on No. 18 by himself as he waved to the crowd.
"They're just classy guys, they've been out here, they've done it for a while," Hadwin said. "They can recognize that the fans appreciated what went on this week and they just kind of let me have my moment and it's nice."
Hadwin didn't expect his brother, 20, to still be following him at the final hole. The younger Hadwin has been battling Crohn's disease for a number of years now.
"I saw (Kyle) on that putt on No.18, I saw him and my mom waiting by the grandstand -- it was kind of cool," Hadwin said. "I wasn't sure if he was going to stick around for the whole round or not, but he did.
"I wish I had of made that putt, just didn't put my best stroke on it."
Hadwin's Top-10 finish at the tournament earns him a spot at next week's Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.
"I'll take things one step at a time like I have been, keep working hard, keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "It's the process not the results, I'm 23-years-old, I've got lots of years left, I'll just focus on that and go from there."