DeLaet been there, done that

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

Qualifying school, which got underway Wednesday for both the PGA and LPGA Tours, is more likely an extended learning process over several years than the instant step into success that the naive might expect, although that is a possibility.

It took Graham DeLaet, of Weyburn, Sask., four tries before getting it right in 2009.

“I came out of college. I had quite a bit of confidence. I really thought that I was going to get through,” said DeLaet of his first shot back in 2006.

“To be honest, the first time is probably the easiest. You don’t really know what to expect. You don’t know what the failure of it is like, so you just kind of go in free-wheeling and it’s probably the easiest, at least mentally, of all that I went into,” he said.

However, Q-school has a way of teaching a lesson that you’ll never forget. As the final round of second stage wound down, DeLaet tried what he called a “hero shot” and wound up taking “a stupid, stupid” triple that cost him a trip to final stage that year.

“It’s one of those things that you think about for months and months afterwards,” said DeLaet, who couldn’t get past the second stage until 2009, when there were a lot of eyes on him after a magnificent year on the Canadian Tour.

DeLaet won twice that season to win the Canadian Tour’s Order of Merit. He also had a win in South Africa and played with Victoria’s Stuart Anderson in the World Cup in China before heading to Q-school. “Mentally, I really believed 100% that I was at least going to get a full Nationwide Tour card and I would have been satisfied with that. Obviously, the goal going in there is to get your PGA Tour card and just kind of settle for a Nationwide Tour card if that’s the case,” he said.

DeLaet didn’t have to settle. He started the final round in a tie for second, but wound up in a tie for eighth at 15-under, more than enough to earn his card.

“It was a long week — six rounds of golf and such high pressure. It takes a lot out of you,” said DeLaet, who is in Phoenix preparing to kick-start his career at the Sony Open in January after the better part of a year off due to surgery to deal with a bulging disc in his back.

“Even getting through and succeeding, it still probably took a week or two to kind of just get over the emotional roller-coaster and then the high, obviously, of getting through,” he said.

“It’s almost indescribable. Every shot is basically the most important shot of your entire life, one after the other and it’s easy to look ahead whether you’re playing really well or really poorly or mediocre,” added DeLaet.

DeLaet’s experience in 2009 is similar to what’s ahead for Adam Hadwin, who drew the eyes of Canadians with his tie for fourth at the RBC Canadian Open in July. It was one of two top-10 finishes in limited PGA Tour play this year.

DeLaet hasn’t played golf with Hadwin for years, but is aware of the progress Hadwin has made over the past two years.

“He’s an incredible talent. I know there are a lot of Canadians and media and peers and just fans in general that are really rooting for him because they see a lot of potential in him and rightfully so,” DeLaet said.


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