DeLaet's got his groove back

Saskatchewan's Graham DeLaet tied for fourth at Sunday's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. (Chris...

Saskatchewan's Graham DeLaet tied for fourth at Sunday's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP)

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:22 PM ET

TORONTO - Bank statements are not likely to replace Graham DeLaet's yardage book, nor will a calculator become a utensil of choice in his golf bag as he seeks to solidify his place on the PGA Tour.

Yet, it would be completely understandable if DeLaet made like an accountant crunching numbers as the Weyburn, Sask., native plans his future.

A year ago, his concerns were more medical than financial after disc surgery on his back in January of 2011, a disappointing setback after finishing 100th on the PGA Tour money list in his rookie year of 2010 to maintain his card for the following season until the surgery sidelined him.

His one solace was that DeLaet was granted a major medical exemption in which he'd have 28 events to earn just over $668,000, the total earned by the 125th-place finisher on last year's tour money list.

That would get him full-time playing privileges again for the rest of this year, but DeLaet's main focus from a financial standpoint is getting into the top 125 on the money list by the end of the season that would allow him to continue his promising career into 2013.

His tie for fourth in New Orleans went a long way on both counts. The $281,600 he won whittled down the money he needed on the medical exemption to just over $170,000, while booting him upstairs on this year's money list to 80th from 126th.

With tax deadline passing last night, you've likely had enough of number crunching and DeLaet feels exactly the same way, adding that his game needs to be his focus, not the financial side of it.

"It's never really been in my mind because I really feel confident that I'm a good enough player and that I'm going to get the job done, but (his T4 in New Orleans) definitely takes a little bit of any kind of doubt or any kind of stress (off)," said DeLaet.

"At the same time, I fully expect to be in the top 125 at the end of the year and to be in the mix," he said.

Going into New Orleans, he felt that game was there, but that wasn't reflected in recent results since a T9 finish in Puerto Rico in early March.

"I've been feeling like the last three or four tournaments that I've played that, going into the week, I felt super-good about my game. I was hitting it well. I was putting well and I just wasn't scoring and it was like one or two stupid shots out of nowhere," he said.

That all changed last week at TPC Louisiana, where DeLaet opened with a 68 and things just kept getting better as he followed up with a 67 on Friday and a brilliant 66 on Saturday that put him just two shots back and in the final group with eventual champ Jason Dufner.

"All week, it was my best iron-striking week, probably since 2009 before I even got on tour, I haven't really felt like I was in as good a control of my trajectory and moving the ball and hitting proper distances, That was super-positive. It was nice to feel total control again," he said.

DeLaet finished three shots behind Dufner and veteran Ernie Els, who battled it out in a two-hole playoff before Dufner won, and he was disappointed that he failed to make a charge, his main nemesis being putts that missed by a hair. On the other hand, DeLaet didn't crumble either.

"I putted really, really well the first three days and then, it kind of left me (on Sunday). I was a little tentative on my first couple of putts. I had some good looks on one and two and left them short and then, I missed a four-footer on five," said DeLaet.

"You lose a little bit of confidence, but actually, (I had) really, really good putts on six, seven, eight, kind of back to back to back, 12-footers that all just kind of grazed edges in a different way than I kind of anticipated," he said.

DeLaet made the turn at one-over after taking a bogey on four, but he went back to even with a birdie on 10. He pushed it to one-under with a birdie on 18.

"The one thing that I was most proud of (Sunday) is that I got off to a bit of a shaky start and I stayed patient. I felt like I did a really good job of just kind of grinding all day," he said.

"I was really proud of myself for staying in it and not trying to get ahead of myself and losing focus on what I needed to do," added DeLaet.

"It was disappointing not to see the putts drop (Sunday), but all in all, I played really well and it was awesome being in the mix and being in the final group. I can draw a lot of positives in the future on that. It was a good week," he said.

DELAET'S 2012 SEASON

As Graham DeLaet took his first tee shot at last week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, he was 126th on the PGA Tour money list, one below where he needs to be at the end of the season to secure his place on tour in 2013.

DeLaet's T4 finish vaulted him way up the money list into 80th place in a season that has seen him earn two top 10s, but miss four cuts, as well.

What's next for DeLaet, who missed most of last season following disc surgery on his back? We're really not sure. He's not playing this week's Wells Fargo Championship, but he has put in to play the Players Championship the following week, but won't know for sure until Friday.

Here's how DeLaet has earned the $485,864 in 12 events this year that has him in good shape for next season.

Sony Open in Hawaii T29 -5 $32,755.55

Farmers Insurance Open Missed Cut +1 --

Waste Management Phoenix Open T55 -1 $13,725

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am T69 E $12,224

Northern Trust Open T44 +4 $20,512.80

The Honda Classic Missed Cut +6 --

Puerto Rico Open T9 -10 $94,500

Transitions Championship Missed Cut +4 --

Shell Houston Open Missed Cut +1 --

RBC Heritage T44 +3 $16,473

Valero Texas Open T56 +7 $14,074

Zurich Classic of New Orleans T4 -16 $281,600


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