Chesson Hadley was the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in 2014 before losing his Tour card, but he may be on his way back.
Hadley took the lead with an eagle on the 11th hole and capped a 7-under round of 65 with a birdie on No. 17 to win the LECOM Health Challenge Tournament Sunday at Peek'n Peak Resort at Findley Lake in Chautauqua County. Hadley needed that final birdie and a par on No. 18 to close out his third career victory on the Web.com Tour because Beau Hossler birdied the last two holes for a 64 to finish just one stroke behind Hadley's 265, 23 under par.
Hadley's 65 followed rounds of 69, 67 and 64 on the 7,058-yard Upper Course at Peek'n Peak.
The victory was worth $108,000 for the slender, 6-foot-4, 160-pound former Georgia Tech golfer who won $1.7 million on the PGA Tour in 2014 and $1.1 more in 2015. Last year he won a little more than $500,00o, not enough to keep his Tour card. He has a conditional Tour card this season, but has chosen to concentrate on the Web.com Tour.
One of the first questions Hadley got after his victory on Sunday was from his 5-year-old son, Hughes:
"Can I get 30,000 toys?"
Hadley turned pro in 2010 but, after failing to earn his Tour card at qualifying school, went home to Raleigh, N.C. and worked as a waiter in a restaurant where he had been a busboy during his high school days. He finally broke through in 2013, won the Puerto Rico Open on the PGA Tour and earned rookie honors.
Dropping down from the PGA Tour to the second-tier Web.com did not discourage Hadley. He just kept working at his game.
Sunday, Hadley said his 3-wood was the key club in his bag at Peek'n Peak.
Hadley had only three bogeys in his 72 rounds in the tournament. He went 39 holes in a row without one before his 5 on the par-4 No. 2 hole on Sunday. In all, he 22 birdies and two eagles the tournament.
“Three-woods are finicky … it’s hard to find one. I got dialed in about three weeks ago with one … to be honest I’ve been playing with 13 clubs for about a year. I’ve been avoiding it,” Hadley admitted. “I absolutely smoked that thing this week. I drove (the par-4 12th) green with it a couple of days. I had (Titleist) make me a double – the exact same one – and I’ll say it, go ahead and make me another one. It was my club of choice this week.”
The eagle on the par-5 11th put Hadley 5-under par for the day and he went to 6 under with a birdie on No. 12.
Hadley's last victories on the Web-com came in the 2013 when he won the Rex Hospital Open in his hometown of Raleigh and the Web.com Tour championship.
American pros took nine of the top 10 finishes in the LECOM. Corey Conners of Canada tied for ninth at 14-under 274. Dudley Hart of Rochester shot 71 on Sunday for 281 and finished in a tie for 47th.
The LECOM was the 15th stop on the Web.com Tour. Next week, the tour moves on to Farmington, Utah for the Utah Championship sponsored by Zion Bank. There are 10 more events after that wrapping up with the Web.com Tour championship at Atlantic Beach, Fla. starting Sept. 28.