What they said: Graham DeLaet

January 12, 2012
PGA TOUR staff

MORE INTERVIEWS: Sony Open in Hawaii transcript archive

JOHN BUSH: Graham DeLaet joins us with 7-under par 63. First of all, welcome to the 2012 Sony Open, and welcome back, I know it's been a long road for you this past year. Comment on being back and your round today.

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, it's definitely exciting to be back on the golf course. Great way to start the year. You know, just being in Hawai'i, period, is a great way to start the year and to come out and fire a nice round in the opening round was great.

JOHN BUSH: Talk about the injuries with your back that you went through and where you are now.

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, I'm still progressing, I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent, but better than three years, even before the real bad injury.

You know, I'm just so excited to be back out. The one thing with the injury, you know, when you're out here on TOUR, I had a good season my rookie campaign, and then it was all basically just taken away. And I realize now how fortunate we are to be playing golf for a living and you know, my whole attitude is definitely better. It's changed and I'm a lot more positive because I'm just happy to be playing more than anything.

Q. Talk about the back issues and when it first started.

GRAHAM DeLAET: You know, I've always kind of battled a bad back ever since I was a teenager playing hockey growing up when I originally hurt it. There would always be once or twice a year where I would have a flare-up and I would be out of commission for a couple of days, but then it would always get better.

For some reason during 2010 in the Fall Series, I was in a lot of pain but I was playing really real well and then I kept going. Then when the season was over, I just progressively got worse and worse and worse to the point where I couldn't sit down for more than ten seconds and that's kind of when we realized that, you know, surgery was kind of the only option.

I tried a lot of different things, whether it be massage and chiropractor, physical therapy, acupuncturing; tried it all, but nothing was really working. It was the l 5/s 1, lower back.

Q. When did you have surgery??

GRAHAM DeLAET: January 3 of last year.

Q. What kind of surgery??

GRAHAM DeLAET: I had a microdiscectomy, because I had a herniated disk to the right, so they go in to shave off a piece of that to alleviate the pinch on the nerve. I had a terrible pain in my right leg, and you know, yeah, it was not fun. I'm glad it's all over and I'm feeling great now.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: It was actually the next week, I was scheduled to play in the AT&T at Aronimink and I played a practice round early Wednesday morning before the Pro-Am and then I was kind of practicing that afternoon, or that day, and then later that afternoon, it wasn't feeling right.

I think I wanted to be there so bad that I felt that I was better physically than I actually was. And so the next morning, I woke up and I just knew that it's hard enough to compete out here when you're healthy and I just knew that I wasn't in good enough shape to compete.

Q. After the surgery, how long before you were able to pick up a club??

GRAHAM DeLAET: It was at the two-month Mark where I started hitting little chips and putts and half-wedges, kind of thing. By the time -- it wasn't probably until November that I could really like go after a drive as hard as I could, or really lash at one in the deep rough kind of thing.

After that, because I realized, I always thought that I was good enough throughout the year. That's why I came back and played. You know, on those days or on those kind of shots that I didn't feel anything else, I kind of knew that I was to the point where I needed to be to be playing.

Q. So a major medical, or what do you need to do??

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah. Well, I have 26 events left to make about 650,000. You have to -- whatever the 125 Money List was last year, and I made one cut in Memphis last year. So that will add on to whatever I make for this year.

Q. So you could do it this week.

GRAHAM DeLAET: That would be a nice way to start the year, yeah. (Laughter).

Q. Could you compare your enthusiasm or optimism, or whatever you want to call it, now, compared to your rookie season.

GRAHAM DeLAET: That's a good question actually, because my rookie season obviously, I was so excited to be out there. I had been working so hard to get out here for four or five years. And so obviously it was exciting, to see the guys that I always watched on TV and hitting balls next to them on the range. This year, I feel like I belong, and it's just nice to be back out playing and seeing some of the guys.

I'm a competitor at heart, and it's great to be back out competing.

Q. Can you describe your mood or state of mind post-surgery??

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, I mean, it was like literally overnight, pain was like just gone. There's obviously a lot that I had to do for the next couple of months before I could just pick up a golf club again.

There was times when, like I said, I didn't know if I was going to be able to play. Again and things start going through your head, like if you have children, whether you're going to be able play catch with them in the front yard and that kind of thing. I was in a pretty bad place mentally and physically, but it's just nice to be back.

Q. And I don't know if thiscorrect, but your swing coach, you don't really have a swing coach, but you work with your college coach??

GRAHAM DeLAET: Kevin Burton, he has been my mentor for the past five years. The guy has a heart of gold and would do anything for me and I owe a lot to him.

Q. Is it true he was a wrestling coach before??

GRAHAM DeLAET: That was the original coach when I got to Boise State, but they switched like three years in.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: Once I could start hitting the shots and feeling the shots that I knew that I was always capable of, and hitting it high and long, you know, there's times where I just couldn't get my body to move in the right path I guess to hit the shots I needed to hit pain free.

As soon as it started coming back, physically I feel that I'm the same player that I was there, or that I used to be, but I really feel like I'm in a better place mentally now and one of the main reasons is because I'm so happy to be out here playing and I realize over the past couple of years or a year that you know, we are all so fortunate to be playing golf for a living. You know, bogey is a pretty minor problem looking back to what I went through last year.

Q. Given that the injuries were hockey related, do you look back now and regret playing, or is that not really an option??

GRAHAM DeLAET: No, like the injury itself, I hurt myself the first time playing hockey, but it's because of the makeup of my body. I learned a lot about how my body works, and you know, being more flexible and more strength in the right areas. You know, if I had that kind of knowledge when I was 16, I probably wouldn't have ever been in that situation playing hockey or not.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: You know, I was actually pretty fortunate a couple of times today. I didn't hit it very good off the tee and that's one thing that you really need to do around here. 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 off to the front edge.

I made a couple long putts, probably over 30 feet, two of them, and I chipped in for eagle on No.9 today.

Q. How long on the chip-in??

GRAHAM DeLAET: The chip-in? It was probably a 30-footer.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, I feel usually the strength of my game is my driving and over the past -- even since I was in college and everything, my short game has been the thing that's let me down.

That's also another positive about not being able to play a lot of golf last year; just a lot of work on my short game. I started working with Gabriel Hjertstedt, who used to play out here and he showed me a lot of new shots. I don't know if I would have the ability to hit some of the shots if I was actually playing all of last year, because I wouldn't have had the time to practice like I did.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: Yeah, I just started working with a new guy out here, which is pretty exciting. We have warm ups in the morning and cool-downs after the round. We are working out on the off days and the weekends and that kind of thing. So I will be heading over there to the gym just next door as soon as we grab a bite to eat.

Q. Inaudible.

GRAHAM DeLAET: I would say probably not quite, but closer than I've been for years, though. That would be over 90 per cent.

JOHN BUSH: We appreciate your time.