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Comeback year for Chesson Hadley ends with Shriners Open near miss

Updated November 5, 2017 - 6:12 pm

Chesson Hadley finished first on the 2017 Web.com money list and then earned the most money during the Web.com Tour Finals, the first to ever do both in the same year.

On Sunday during the final round of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he was 9-under par and standing in the middle of the 18th fairway. He watched as Whee Kim and Patrick Cantlay made bogey ahead of him to finish 9-under. Behind him, J.J. Spaun made a double bogey on 17 to fall to 8-under. The scene was set for Hadley to win his first PGA Tour event.

However, his approach shot, in difficult and windy conditions, ended up right of the green. He chipped to nine feet and missed the par putt. Hadley finished at 8-under 276 and tied for fourth.

Just like that, he went from a chance to win to missing the three-way playoff.

“It was disappointing to finish the way I did, but it is what it is,” Hadley said.

After winning the 2014 PGA Tour rookie of the year, Hadley hit a rough stretch.

“It’s kind of a comeback year,” Hadley said. “I was pretty down the latter half of 2015 and 2016. To play well in PGA Tour events is awesome. I’ve been trying to win golf tournaments and I have given myself opportunities to do that.

“I had a change in attitude and hit a mental refresh. I now look and handle things differently. Physically I feel better, but that’s the easy part. You just have to get your mind right.”

Leading up to the Shriners, Hadley finished second at the Sanderson Farms Championship and third at the Safeway Open.

“I’ve contended in three tournaments in a row out here,” Hadley said. “I keep knocking. You’re not going to win them all, but if you keep giving yourself an opportunity, you’re going to win a lot of them.”

Cejka’s memorable round just misses

Alex Cejka has played TPC Summerlin too many times to count, but his 8-under par 63 on Sunday during the final round of the Shriners Open might be the best he’s ever played his home course.

The round was good enough to get him to 9-under-par 275 and into a three-way playoff, won by Patrick Cantlay.

“Not really,” Cejka said, when asked if he could remember any round resembling the one he played on Sunday, when he birdied the final four holes, five of the last six and eight of the last 12. “… I never play 18 full holes where I count, but today is one of the rounds I won’t forget.”

If not for making double bogeys on the par 4, 12th hole on Friday and Saturday, the outcome for Cejka might have been different.

“You can’t say ‘if’ or ‘what could have been’ in golf,” Cejka said. “I played 72 holes the best I could.”

Local flavor

Sponsor exemption Alex Kang shot a 7-under 64 on Sunday to finish at 6-under 278 and tied for 10th. He earned a spot in next week’s OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.

Others: A.J. McInerney, 6-under; Scott Piercy, 2-under 282; Ryan Moore, 1-over 285; Chad Campbell, 6-over 290.

Stars on, off course

Awaiting Bubba Watson outside the scoring trailer after his final round were Shriners patient ambassadors Emily and Isabella plus about a hundred fans who immediately began singing Happy Birthday. Watson finished at 1-over 285 and turned 39.

The golf notebook regularly appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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