SPORTS

Golfer DeLaet making progress, but does not call this season a breakthrough

06/18/2013 09:27 EDT | Updated 08/18/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Many golfers would consider a pair of top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in the same season as a breakthrough.

But not Graham DeLaet.

"I don't think I would consider it a breakthrough (season) quite until I get my first win," he said Tuesday on a conference call. "But, in general, the thing that I'm most proud of this year is just my consistency. I've been playing just solid week to week, making a lot of cuts."

In other words, the 31-year-old Weyburn, Sask., native is making considerable progress as he heads into this week's Traveler's Championship at TPC Rivers Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

"This year, compared to years past, I've had a lot of 15th through 30th places in the tournaments, which gains confidence," said DeLaet, who has only missed three cuts. "Hopefully, I can go from there and be in routinely the top five or top 15. Just trying to mature and continue to build is my goal.

"Without the win, I don't think I'd really consider it a breakthrough. But at the same time, I feel like I'm going in the right direction right now."

DeLaet is looking to improve on ninth-place ties at the Farmers Insurance Open in January and Honda Classic in early February.

With US $933,587 in earnings from 16 events, he ranks 58th on the PGA Tour money list and appears well on his way to becoming a mainstay on the top U.S. circuit after playing on a medical exemption in 2012 following a back injury that limited him to just two events in 2011.

He has come a long way from where he used to be on the Canadian Tour, now known as PGA Tour Canada, where he hacked and whacked his way to a sparse living while travelling with other young golfers with a car and trailer on the cheap.

But DeLaet, who now takes flights to tournaments with his wife booking the travel, credits the Canadian Tour with playing a key role in the growth of his game.

"It's really been a big part of my development as a player," said DeLaet, a three-time Canadian Tour winner, who also claimed its Order of Merit once. "And, looking back, it obviously helped me pick up another win out there.

"The thing that I remember most about being out there is the camaraderie that the tour had, guys all eating at local restaurants and stuff like that, and practising together and helping each other out, because a lot of guys didn't have any coaches or that kind of thing out there.

"It was a lot of fun, the three years that I spent out there, and fond memories, for sure."

Memories of competing in his home province and elsewhere in Canada came up as the conference call was held to discuss DeLaet's role as honorary chairman of the Dakata Dunes Open, a PGA Tour Canada event to be held in Saskatoon, where most of his family members now live, from July 4-7.

He hopes one day to take part in another tournament on the development circuit, but is setting his sights clearly on upgrading his PGA status. He does have a tournament on his radar in Ontario this year though.

He is looking forward to competing in the Canadian Open, to be held in late July at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. It will be his second appearance at Canada's national tournament, and he hopes to do better than the tie for 46th that he recorded in 2009 while he was still on the Canadian tour and gained entry on a U.S. Golf Association exemption.

He regards the Canadian Open as his most important event of the ones that he has played, but does not want to put too much emphasis on it.

"In the past, I've maybe put a little too much pressure on myself, because I obviously really want to play well there," he said. "And, I think this year my goal is just to try to relax and try to treat it as a regular event as much as I can. It's a little bit of a different week for me. I've got a lot more media (interviews) that I do, and everything seems like it's in fast-forward from Monday through Wednesday that week compared to a normal week for me.

"But my goal this year to try and treat it as a regular event and just go out and play. Hopefully, my game can speak for itself without trying to make things happen as opposed to letting them happen."

He resumes playing this week after taking a two-week break. The rest resulted after he decided to take a pass on attempting to qualify for last weekend's U.S. Open in Merion, Pa.

"I can see why people would wonder why I would not play the qualifier for the U.S. Open," he said. "But when all was said and done, I was tired mentally and physically. I just knew that I needed a break."

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