Graham DeLaet getting closer to first PGA Tour win

Canadian Graham DeLaet finished alone in third at this weekend's Travelers Championship. (AFP)

Canadian Graham DeLaet finished alone in third at this weekend's Travelers Championship. (AFP)

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:36 PM ET

TORONTO - The Travelers Championship, which concluded Sunday, was won by a first-timer, but it wasn’t the Canadian guy who shot a pair of 65s earlier in the tournament to get into the final group.

“I wish they were both 64s. Then, I would have won,” said Graham DeLaet, who instead finished solo third behind Ken Duke, who won his first PGA Tour title at the age of 44 in a playoff that Chris Stroud forced when he chipped in on the 72nd hole of the tournament.

There will be no pleasing DeLaet, who shot a 69 on Sunday and finished one shot back, until he goes over the top and get his first win and you have to think that’s coming soon after his fourth top-10 finish of the season.

His disappointment with Sunday’s result is as it should be, with no room for complacency.

“I think now my expectations are a little higher than they have been even two months ago because I feel like I’ve been playing well and been in position,” said DeLaet, who had mixed feelings about his performance on Sunday.

“Honestly, I was super calm all day. I was much more nervous on Thursday when I teed off on the first hole than I was (Sunday) for whatever reason. I was calm and everything felt good,” he said.

“I played pretty solid for the first five holes, made some good pars, made a couple of really nice up-and-downs, especially early, to kind of just keep myself in it,” he added.

“I had a really bad lay-up on six, a par five, and ended up making a bogey there,” said DeLaet, who gathered himself after that slight hiccup.

“I just kind of felt like I was just plugging along all day and I was super-disappointed on 15 and 16. I had relatively easy up-and-downs and just didn’t get it done. If I make one of those, I’m in the playoff and if I make up-and-down on both of those, I’m winning,” he said.

Early in the round, DeLaet held the lead by himself at 10 under, with 19 players within three shots of the lead, including Justin Rose after his U.S. Open win the week before and Bubba Watson.

DeLaet finished with three birdies and two bogeys on the day, a steady final round when you compare it to Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, who tripled bogeyed the 16th and finished a shot behind DeLaet in fourth.

“In all honesty, I didn’t really care what Bubba was doing or what anyone else was doing. I was just kind of trying to play the best golf that I could,” he said of the holes that gave him trouble on Sunday.

“You just look back at those, it’s just disappointing, but at the same time, I’m still holding my head high and I’m going forward and I think it’s just going to make me better,” he said.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, but at the same time, I felt good about how I played all week. I felt good about how I handled myself,” added DeLaet.

“It was slightly disappointing because I really felt like it was my tournament to win and I kind of let it slip a little bit there coming in,” he said.

The final round at the Travelers marked only the second time that DeLaet had played in the final group on Sunday and there was a noticeable difference compared to the first time at last year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where he tied for fourth.

“I remember walking off the first tee in New Orleans and kind of looking around and thinking, ‘Wow, this is amazing. This is what you play for,’” he said.

“I felt the same excitement (Sunday). I wouldn’t say I had an expectation of being there, but I felt like it was where I deserved to be and so, I wasn’t super-excited about everything that was going on. I just focused on what I needed to do,” DeLaet said.

“(In New Orleans), I felt like I got a little bit sidetracked, just the first couple of holes and after that, I felt like I did a pretty good job with the situation,” he said.

“(Sunday), I got on that tee and there were tons of people and they were making noise on the first tee, I hit a perfect tee shot down the middle and we were just kind of off,” he said.

So, while he is disappointed with not having his first victory, things are obviously progressing for DeLaet, who remains positive as the season swings into high gear, including this week at the AT&T National.

“I feel like Congressional sets up well for me. It’s a really difficult golf course and you’ve got to drive it well. It’s really long and you have to hit the ball high and soft. I feel that is a really, really good golf course for my game, maybe one of the best out there,” said DeLaet.

“I have pretty high expectations going into next week and I’ve had some decent success at Greenbrier. I finished top 15 last year,” he said.

DELAET DOLLARS FOR ALBERTA

DeLaet promised to donate $1,000 for every birdie he made on the weekend at the Travelers, which was nine, but that $9,000 quadruples after ATB Financial, PGA Tour Canada and Saskatoon businessman David Dubé said they’d match DeLaet’s donation to Alberta flood relief efforts.

“That’s a small dent really in the grand scheme of things, but hopefully, it can go a long way,” said DeLaet, who won the ATB Financial Classic in 2009, when it was part of the Canadian Tour, but that event was cancelled on Friday due to the floods in Calgary.

The Canadian Tour is now PGA Tour Canada.

“That’s obviously got a place in my heart. I was out there for three years and I believe in what they’re doing out there and then, for any of their main sponsors to step up is just great,” DeLaet said.

“It’s an absolute shame that they weren’t able to play the tournament, but I think they made a great move. Golf is definitely pretty low on the radar there the last couple of days, with everything that was going on there,” he said.


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