Raleigh native ‘didn’t see this coming,’ leads PGA event in SC as final round begins


Chesson Hadley waves to the crowd after making a birdie putt on the 12th hole during the third round of the Palmetto Championship golf tournament in Ridgeland, S.C., Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)


In the midst of a forgettable season on the PGA Tour, Chesson Hadley charged from obscurity into the lead at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

Hadley, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina who played college golf at Georgia Tech, seized the second-round lead Friday and sizzled over the back nine Saturday to establish a four-stroke lead. Lightning halted play with Hadley and Dustin Johnson on the final hole.

He hasn’t won a PGA Tour event in seven years.

“I definitely didn’t see this coming,” Hadley said after his 5-under-par 66 Friday opened a two-shot edge over Johnson. “I missed all those cuts (four) in a row. Thank goodness, I had three weeks off to kind of hit the reset switch, get out on the board and just forget about some things, spend some time with the family.”

The 6-foot-4 Hadley bogeyed the first hole Saturday and Johnson, the world’s top-ranked player, birdied the second, leaving the pair tied. But Hadley converted four birdies on the back nine before the weather delay.

“If I can keep riding the putter, she’s a sweet girl,” he said after Friday’s round during which he gained 4.4 shots on the field on the greens.

He did Saturday, gaining 3.6 strokes on the green and has picked up 9.5 on the green for the tournament.

Hadley, 33, came into the Palmetto Championship at Congaree ranked 320th in the world. In addition to his four straight missed cuts prior to this event, he had a streak of five missed cuts earlier in the year.

He languished at 205 in the FedEx standings and would move to No. 47 with a victory.

A three-time All-American at Georgia Tech, he turned pro in 2010. He won four times on the Korn Ferry Tour and has one PGA Tour tournament win, the 2014 Puerto Rico Open, to his credit.

Chesson Hadley finger snap

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