Marathon begins for DeLaet

IAN HUTCHINSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

It's one down, two to go in a series of lofty goals that Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., has set for himself, but he'll need to complete a marathon before he accomplishing all three by the first week of December.

DeLaet tied for 13th in the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying school on Saturday in Pine Mountain, Ga. That was good enough to send him on to the final stage, which takes place Dec. 2-7 in West Palm Beach, Fla.

That first goal was an important one for DeLaet, who has now clinched at least a Nationwide Tour card for next year, representing a step forward in a career that, at this point, seems destined for the PGA Tour.

"It takes some pressure off the final stage," said DeLaet, who won this year's Canadian Tour Order of Merit after a two-win season on the tour.

'BIG STEP'

"For me, just to get through there is a big step. (The second stage) is the roadblock that I've hit the last three years, so it's nice to get through," he said. "Now, I get to play next year, so I can just go freewheeling at final stage and, hopefully, I can shoot some good numbers."

The six gruelling rounds of the final stage can be tough enough at the best of times, but DeLaet has a lot going on between then and now.

Yesterday morning, he set off for Hong Kong, a 16-hour trip, estimates DeLaet, who then had to travel another couple of hours to Mission Hills in China, where he'll hook up with teammate Stuart Anderson of Victoria for this week's World Cup.

DeLaet will have a similar odyssey coming back from China for the final stage, which gets underway a week from Wednesday. Travel time and time zones could take their toll, but DeLaet says he can deal with it.

"Obviously, your sleeping and eating patterns are definitely off. I figure it's the World Cup and it's the final stage of Q-School and if I can't get excited to play those two events, what can I get excited about?" DeLaet said.

"I'm playing with a lot of confidence and hopefully, I can just kind of keep it going these next two weeks. This week could be a lucrative week at the World Cup and it's a proud time representing your country."

"It's exciting. It's a little nerve-wracking, but I'm looking forward to it," added DeLaet, no stranger to globe trotting this year.

A couple of trips to South Africa this year earned DeLaet a win at the BMG Classic after a couple of 12th-place finishes and two seconds earlier in the season. The win at the BMG Classic came after he and Anderson earned the trip to China at a World Cup qualifier in Estonia.

"It's good to get four rounds under our belts together because they use the same format at the qualifier as they do at the tournament," DeLaet said.

Anderson will not be accompanying DeLaet back to the final stage of Q-School after withdrawing from the final round of the second stage in Beaumont, Calif.

HUTCHGOLF@NETZERO.COM


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