FORT WORTH, Texas -- We take a closer look at Graham DeLaet’s swing off the tee on the 193-yard, par-3 eighth hole. DeLaet currently leads the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial midway through Saturday's third round.
Graham DeLaet is looking for his first PGA TOUR win this week. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Despite making two previous starts in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Graham DeLaet had never heard of the "Horrible Horseshoe" until Friday.
Now he knows how that stretch of holes -- the par-4 third, par-3 fourth and par-4 fifth, the toughest three holes in Colonial history -- got its nickname.
DeLaet bogeyed all three holes but the Canadian still managed a second-round 3-under 67 that left him atop the leaderboard at 9 under when he walked off the course.
DeLaet, who began his round off the 10th tee, entered the Horrible Horseshoe on a stretch of three consecutive birdies, but he gave all those strokes away just as quickly.
"Those are tough, strong holes," DeLaet said. "They will probably be the difference in the golf tournament."
But if DeLaet manages his first PGA TOUR win this week -- his best finish on TOUR was a tie for third at the 2010 Shell Houston Open -- he may look back at his finishing stretch in the second round as a key moment.
DeLaet rolled in a birdie putt of 28 feet, 7 inches for birdie at the eighth, then followed with another birdie from just inside 12 feet on his final hole, the par-4 ninth to claim the clubhouse lead midway through the day.
"I got myself right back in it," DeLaet said of his two late birdies.
DeLaet has three top-10 finishes in 14 starts this year, including a tie for 10th last week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. In each of those top-10 finishes, his first two rounds have been lower than his weekend rounds.
"I felt like I've had a couple of good chances that I've squandered a little bit either on the weekend or a couple of bad dswings here and there," DeLaet said.
"My game feels good and I'm making some putts here the last couple of days, which always helps."
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Graham DeLaet, who has won four times on PGA TOUR Canada, held first-round leads twice in 2012. Putting four rounds together and contending will be a goal for the upcoming year.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Maybe it was the newly minted beard, but DeLaet was at his best when the pressure was highest during the FedExCup Playoffs. He entered the series ranked 106th and finished three events ranked a career-high 53rd -- thanks in large part to a tie for fifth at The Barclays where he played the final four holes in 4 under. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: What a great year for Graham. He had back surgery in 2011, played in just two events and had to wonder how his back would hold up in 2012. It held up just fine. The Canadian played a full schedule with 23 events and won more than a million dollars. He possesses lots of power; at 304 yards per drive DeLaet is 13th on TOUR in distance. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Needed only 18 of his 26 allotted starts via a medical extension to secure fully exempt status for the remainder of 2012, and then topped out at a career-high $1.051 million. Reminds me a lot of Martin Laird. Both are lanky, international mashers off the tee and fearless with their irons. DeLaet is only 11 months older, too, and will turn 31 before the fourth event of 2013. His back, on which he had surgery in early January of 2011, may sideline him from time to time, but I'm endorsing in all formats. He owns the kind of firepower that you want to ride. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||T-4th||Zurich Classic of New Orleans|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 17
Rounds played: 79
Top-10 finishes: 3
Money List rank: 95th
Driving distance: 13th
Driving accuracy: 110th
Greens in regulation: 46th
Strokes gained-putting: 156th
Scoring average: 65th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
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By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
CARMEL, Ind. -- Graham DeLaet decided to make the best of a bad situation when he missed the cut last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
So he left New England on Sunday evening and headed for America's heartland. When the final round of the second FedExCup Playoffs event was being played at TPC Boston on Labor Day, DeLaet was playing a practice round at Crooked Stick.
"I was the only guy on the golf course, and it was kind of an eerie feeling," DeLaet said. "I think looking back on it, it kept me fresh going into this week because everyone else finished on Monday, it was a quite turnaround, Monday night flight, and right back into another week of golf here.
“I obviously would have liked to have made the cut last week, but I think it worked out a little bit in my benefit, as well."
In more ways that one, it seems. DeLaet fired a 64 on Thursday that left him tied for the lead at the BMW Championship with Rory McIlroy, who leads the FedExCup rankings, Indiana's Bo Van Pelt and reigning U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson.
DeLaet has responded to the pressure well -- and not just because he and fellow Canadian David Hearn are sporting their playoff beards. He was ranked No. 106 entering the Playoffs and moved to No. 44 when he tied for fifth at The Barclays on the strength of a closing 65.
Granted, the missed cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship was costly, dropping him 16 spots in the FedExCup standings. But he responded on Thursday and has three rounds to go to see if he can play his way to East Lake.
"Going into Sunday's round at Barclays, I was just hoping to play Boston, and I was able to put a nice round together there and it kind of catapulted me up," DeLaet said. "At that time I started thinking I've got a chance still to make the TOUR Championship."
DeLaet, who now makes his home in Boise, Idaho, where he went to college, has benefitted from a switch to a long putter in the past month or so. He bought the putter at the Wide World of Golf in his adopted hometown for about $150.
"The price tag's still on it," he said.
The putter was very cooperative on Thursday, making seven birdies and a 40-footer for eagle on the ninth hole, his last of the day. DeLaet used just 26 putts in the first round.
"I used (the long putter) in the past kind of off and on, so I don't feel completely helpless with it," DeLaet said. "I had won in college and on mini-tours so I knew it would hold up under pressure, and I needed a change more than anything. I just hadn't been making any putts. It's been good so far."
Graham DeLaet birdied the 18th hole from 24 feet, 10 inches during Sunday's final round of The Barclays.
FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Graham DeLaet entered this week outside the top 100 bubble, but has played his way into next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship … and perhaps beyond.
When he walked off the 18th green, he was tied for sixth on the leaderboard. Just as important, he was projected to finish 49th in FedExCup points after starting the week 106th.
“A lot of people think there's too much volatility in it, but it kind of worked in my favor,” DeLaet said. “One good event, you can really catapult yourself up.
“Now I feel like I've got a chance to get in the TOUR Championship, whereas this morning, i was just hoping to play next week.”
DeLaet was 2 over on his round after five holes, but he turned it around on the final 13 holes. He birdied three of his last four holes before making the turn, then shot a back-nine 30 that included three birdies and an eagle at the par-4 15th when he holed out from 152 yards.
DeLaet shot an opening 4-over 75 on Thursday but bounced back with a 67 in the second round before shooting a 1-over 72 on Saturday that included a disappointing double bogey on the 18th hole.
In 2008, the former Masters champ had filmed a PGA TOUR commercial with Wayne Gretzky where the man they call "The Great One" suggested Weir grow a "playoff beard" like hockey players do during the road to the Stanley Cup.
In a case of life imitating art, so to speak, Weir did -- although by the time his wife and children arrived for the Deutsche Bank Championship the beard was gone. Weir went on to finish sixth in the FedExCup that year, posting top-10 finishes in three of the four Playoffs events.
Earlier this week, DeLaet and Hearn tweeted about resurrecting the playoff beards.
Time to get these Playoffs going! Bethpage is awesome! Got the beard ripping, didn't cheat and start 2 weeks ago like @HearnDavid though. @GrahamDeLaet
@GrahamDeLaet had to start early so people could see it!! Haha. Go get em today and lets grow those playoff beards long! #FedExCup #playoffs @HearnDavid
Hearn started The Barclays ranked 108th while DeLaet was two spots higher. Both made the cut on Friday but remain below the top 100 eligible for the Deutsche Bank Championship so they need to play hard this weekend.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AVONDALE, La. -- A year ago, Graham DeLaet didn't know if he'd ever have an opportunity like he has Sunday at TPC Louisiana.
DeLaet was still undergoing rehabilitation after back surgery the previous January. He'd originally injured his back playing hockey as a teenager back home in Canada and had learned to deal with the flare-ups. By the end of his rookie year on the PGA TOUR, though, sitting -- much less playing golf -- had become a challenge.
So DeLaet opted for a microdiscectomy to shave some of the bone that was pressing on the nerve. He played two tournaments last summer but quickly realized he wasn't ready so he waited until 2012 to return to the TOUR full-time.
And Sunday, 12 events into his comeback, DeLaet enters the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a chance to win his first PGA TOUR event. He vaulted up the leaderboard with a 66 on Saturday to finish at 15 under and sit two stokes behind Jason Dufner.
Turns out, DeLaet says he might be a better player because of the extended layoff.
"I feel I'm better mentally because of it because I know a bogey is not really the end of the world and I used to kind of have a little bit of a bad temper, have a bad swing or make a bad bogey," DeLaet said. "Now I realize that my health is really the most important thing and I think it's actually helped my golf game. It was obviously something I wouldn't want to go through again but kind of a blessing in disguise"
The 30-year-old picked up the fourth top-10 finish of his career earlier this year in Puerto Rico. His career-best is a tie for third as a rookie in Houston, but Sunday marks his first appearance in the final group in the final round.
DeLaet has quietly played solidly over the first three rounds at TPC Louisiana. He ranks fifth in driving distance, tied for 10th in greens in regulation and 13th in strokes-gained putting. He was tied for the lead late on the back nine Saturday and is pleased to see everything finally come together.
"First of all, it's exciting," DeLaet said. "It's the first time I've been in this position this deep into a tournament. I'm looking forward to that, the challenge. But I guess more than anything, (I want to) just kind of keep doing what I'm doing. I really feel that my caddy and I are working well together, picking good targets and just kind of working shots the right way. I'm excited about the opportunity and kind of keep doing what I'm doing."
DeLaet, who needs a win to make the field for THE PLAYERS Championship in two weeks, is playing the 2012 campaign on a major medical extension, with 26 events to earn $657,694. A win on Sunday, though, would make him exempt for the rest of the season, as well as the next two years.
"I know it's a cliche but that's what I'm going to try to focus on and not try to get too far ahead of myself," DeLaet said. "I've done that in the past with going into the final round with a chance or even, you know, a chance for a nice finish, ... and think about what a good finish can do for you and that kind thing. I'm going to kind of try to keep staying in the present and going from there."
HONOLULU – Less than an hour into Friday’s second round, Graham DeLaet suffered back-to-back double bogeys and found himself seven shots off the lead.
It was a quick turn of events for the guy who woke up in the morning holding the lead at a PGA TOUR event for the first time in his career.
The 29-year-old Canadian shot a 2-over 72 on Friday to drop to 5 under for the tournament. That leaves him tied for 17th entering Saturday’s third round.
Starting his round on the 10th hole, DeLaet doubled the par-3 11th after an errant tee shot to the right. He again found trouble off the tee at the par-4 12th and had trouble hacking his way out of the rough.
From there, DeLaet was 2 under the rest of the way but the damage had been done.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
HONOLULU -- Canadian Graham DeLaet, playing on a Major Medical Exemption, needs to make $668,166 in 26 TOUR starts in order to keep his card.
First place at the Sony Open in Hawaii this week is $990,000. DeLaet opened Thursday's first round with a 7-under 63, which currently makes him the clubhouse leader.
Three more rounds and ... well, you do the math.
"That would be a nice way to start the year," DeLaet said.
He’ll get to apply the $10,472 he made at last year's St. Jude FedEx Classic toward that $668,166, which is what the 125th player on last year’s money list made. That means he actually only needs to make $657,694.
Of course, a win would give him a two-year exemption and eliminate the money side of things. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.
For now, DeLaet is just glad to be in competitive form after missing most of the 2011 season following microdiscectomy surgery on a herniated disc in his lower back a year ago. He made just two starts in the middle of the year before realizing he was not yet ready to play competitive golf.
"It's definitely exciting to be back on the golf course," said DeLaet, who made nearly a $1 million on the PGA TOUR in 2010 prior to having surgery. "Great way to start the year.
"You know, just being in Hawaii, period, is a great way to start the year. To come out and fire a nice round in the opening round was great."
DeLaet said he did not hit it well off the tee Thursday and was fortunate a couple of times. He chipped in for eagle at the par-5 ninth and rolled in two birdie putts of longer than 34 feet. Strong iron play also bailed him out – he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
"It seemed like every time I hit it in the rough, I had a little gap through the trees or just kind of chased one one off to the front edge," DeLaet said.