Canadian adapting to new life as carded golfer

IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Graham DeLaet had a relaxing holiday season — well, relaxing in Graham DeLaet terms.

After tying for eighth at the PGA Tour qualifying school, DeLaet’s holiday itinerary included Maui, Seattle, Boise and Arizona, where he watched the Fiesta Bowl won by his Boise State Broncos.

“It was amazing, awesome. It was the best sporting event I’ve ever been to. It was cool,” said DeLaet, who was tuning up his game at TPC Scottsdale before returning to Hawaii for this week’s Sony Open in Honolulu.

“It was a nice break,” DeLaet said. “I hadn’t touched my clubs since the final stage (of Q-School) until (last Tuesday) and I was definitely pretty rusty.

“I’m looking forward to getting back at it. I’ve got the itch to play again. I needed a break, but I’m ready to get going.”

It’s little wonder that the Weyburn, Sask., native would require a break after an exhausting 2009 that saw him travel across this country on the Canadian Tour, where he won twice and finished on top of the money list, but also make stops in distant lands such as Estonia, China and South Africa.

If the old saying that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger is true, DeLaet’s busy schedule might be an advantage going into his rookie year.

“It’s exciting more than anything,” said DeLaet, who planned to be in Carlsbad, Calif., today for a club fitting before heading over to Hawaii tomorrow for his first tour event as a carded player.

“I’m anxious to see where I stack up against those guys. If I’m playing well, I should be able to be right there (on the leaderboard).

“I really have high expectations for myself. Going into the year, I obviously want to keep my card, but I want to win a golf tournament. That’s what I’m going to play for every week.”

Rookies who went before DeLaet often comment that it takes a while to get used to new hotels, cities and golf courses. While he wasn’t on the tour, DeLaet experienced much of that with his extensive 2009 travel schedule.

“It’s definitely going to be nice to be just, basically, in the U.S. all year and if I want to go home (to Boise) for the weekend, I can just catch a quick flight,” he said.

“I’m not halfway across the world and away from my wife. It’s going to be a lot easier getting on a flight and going for an hour, instead of 16 or whatever it was last year for a lot of my flights,” he said.

“I enjoy travelling and even though it’s just going to be mostly in the U.S. and going to a lot of the places that they play on the tour, I’m looking forward to that.

“As far as the golf courses, we play, pretty much the best golf courses all over the country in the best possible condition, you can’t ask for much more.”

The uncertainty of the schedule is another challenge faced by rookies who are down the totem pole in priority for entry into early season events.

“I don’t know for sure really what I’m going to be playing in, especially early in the year. I guess that’s just part of it and I’ve just got to deal with it,” said DeLaet. “If I can get into a tournament, I’m going to be ready to play. If I don’t get in, I’ll prepare for the next week’s event.”

Two more in Hawaii Another Canadian rookie, Chris Baryla of Vernon, B.C., will make his debut at the Sony. Also playing is Calgary’s Stephen Ames.


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