June 20, 2008
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Chesson Hadley leaves with his United States teammates Sunday to fly to Glasgow, Scotland for the Palmer Cup matches, an annual Ryder Cup-style match-play competition between collegiate players from the United States and Europe.
The annual Ryder Cup-style competition will be played next Thursday and Friday, June 26-27, on the 6,903-yard, par-71 Willie Park Junior designed Glasgow Golf Club Gailes Links.
Hadley, a sophomore from Raleigh, N.C., who currently is the nation’s sixth-ranked collegiate golfer, becomes the fifth Tech golfer to be named to the U.S. team for the Palmer Cup. He joins Matt Kuchar (1998, 1999), Bryce Molder (1998, 1999, 2001), Roberto Castro (2005, 2006) and Kevin Larsen (2006). Tech head coach Bruce Heppler coached the U.S. team in 2003.
Kevin Chappell of UCLA, Louisville’s Derek Fathauer, Rickie Fowler of Oklahoma State, San Diego State’s Aaron Goldberg, Florida’s Billy Horschel, Adam Mitchell of Georgia and Alabama’s Michael Thompson comprise Team USA. Horschel is the only returning member from last year’s victorious American team and posted a 4-0 record during the matches at Caves Valley in Towson, Md. The United States – who will be coached by Stanford’s Conrad Ray – leads the series, 6-4-1, but have lost the last two competitions in Europe.
Hadley, a rising junior from Raleigh, N.C., earned second-team All-America honors this year from the Golf Coaches Association of America, as well as All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors, and finished the spring at the nation’s 9th-ranked collegiate player on the nation’s No. 9-ranked team.
Following is a conversation with Hadley as he prepares to compete next week.
What are your expectations for your upcoming trip to Scotland for the Palmer Cup? Besides helping to win the cup for the United States, what do you hope to gain from it?
“Obviously I plan on winning the Palmer Cup as a team, but for an individual achievement I would like to win every match. Match play is such a great format because I could shoot 65 and lose, but also shoot 75 and win. I’m hoping to gain more knowledge about the game of golf. Every time you go out there you need to learn from your mistakes.”
What do you most look forward to about this trip?
“The whole idea of this being a team event. I have never played in anything like this before, and I am so excited to get out there and represent the United States. In junior golf, there is something called Canon Cup, which I qualified for but they would not let me play because I was to old. I am really going to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Have you ever been a part of a match play event such as this?
“Kinda, there is a something on a much, much smaller scale in North Carolina and South Carolina called the crown cup. I played in that once, but it is not in the same league as this.
How do you like match play as opposed to stroke play?
“Match play is completely different from stroke play, because you can fire a great round and still get beat. I like both match play and stroke play equally. It is nice to have some match play events, and get away from stroke play for a little bit. You are playing your opponent and the course where as in stroke play you are playing just the course.”
How well do you know your U.S. teammates, and how much have you been around them?
“I feel like I know those guys very well. Rickie Fowler and I have become a lot closer this year. Same with Michael Thompson and Adam Mitchell. I have played with Derek Fathauer once this year; I feel like I see Kevin Chappell at every tournament. When I was being recruited to play college golf; I shadowed Billy Horschel down in Gainesville. The only person I really do not know is Aaron Goldberg. I am really looking forward to fellowship with these guys.”
Have you ever been overseas? If so, have you played golf overseas?
“Yes and Yes. I went over to Scotland and Ireland for my high school graduation present. I am glad to have some experience over there already because it is a completely different style of golf.”
You were recently named a second-team All-American and finished the year ranked No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index. Are you satisfied with your sophomore year performance, at least personally?
“No! Second-team is not first-team, and 9th is not 1st.”
You had a very strong finish to your freshman year and carried that over into the fall, winning the Carpet Capital Collegiate. What parts of your golf game have you worked most to improve in the last year?
“I worked with Jeff Paton (at the Golf Club of Georgia) to really try and stay up on my down swing. When I was little, the only way I could create power was to dip and get behind the ball to create a more powerful blow. Now that I am much stronger and taller, in order for my swing to be most efficient, I need to stay tall and swing around my spine. As coach would say, “Use my big muscles.”
What has been your most significant accomplishment in golf to this point?
“It is between finishing fourth at NCAA’s as a freshman, winning the Carpet Capital (last fall), and being on the 2008 Palmer Cup team.”
Is there a part of your game that has always been strong for you, something you can always count on?
“Putting. It is always there when I need it.”
You indicate on your questionnaire that you play golf righthanded but are a true lefthander? If so, how did you come to be a righthanded golfer? Do you swing a bat and throw a ball lefthanded?
“God’s wisdom is the answer because I have no idea. I throw left handed and bat right handed.”
When did you start playing golf, and who was your biggest influence as a youngster?
“I started playing golf when I was really little. I had a cut down 9-iron and putter, and I would go out and play with my dad. I did not get my first set of clubs till my sixth birthday. I can remember everything about that day; might have been the best day of my life.”