Graham DeLaet is “super excited” about making the President’s Cup International Team, and called it a “dream come true.”
DeLaet, a former Weyburn golfer, talked to media on Thursday afternoon. He talked about the challenges of the President’s Cup, his thoughts on the Captain’s Picks, and what he was looking forward to the most about playing in the tournament.
“It will be the pinnacle of pro golfers at that event, and I am excited to be representing Canada,” said DeLaet. “The team aspect will be a lot of fun. Already, Nick Price (the team captain) has encouraged us to build a friendship and we have already started a process.”
The International Team is being called the underdog, since there are many first-time golfers who will compete at the President’s Cup against the U.S. Team. “We might be the underdogs, but we can use that to our advantage,” said DeLaet. “We also have a handful of major champions on our team.”
DeLaet already feels comfortable about playing with many of his International teammates. He is particularly looking forward to golfing with Ernie Els.
“Ernie has always been great to me, he legitimately cheers for me,” said DeLaet. “Ernie is a very grounded person, so to hear positive things from him is always encouraging.”
DeLaet is also very happy with Brendon de Jonge and Marc Leishman being the two Captain’s picks, who were chosen last week. “Lots of the guys on the team were supportive of the captain’s picks.”
The President’s Cup is a big stepping stone for DeLaet, who can now attend all four Professional Golf Association majors next year, including the Masters, and any World Cup Tour events that he might decide upon.
DeLaet said that because of his success he will have a much easier schedule for next year. “Earlier this year, I had too much golf during the summer and I got a little run-down. I just needed to have a clear head, but I was trying to get into the President’s Cup,” said DeLaet.
The last two tournaments for the FedExCup playoffs are the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship. DeLaet said he doesn’t have any familiarity with either of those courses.
“No one has seen the course for the BMW,” noted DeLaet. This is the first time that the tournament will be held at the Conway Farms Golf Course.
“I will be at a disadvantage at the East Lake Golf Course,” said DeLaet, noting that many other golfers in the Top 30 field have competed in the Tour championship in previous years. “But you have to learn new courses quite frequently.”
DeLaet is confident that he has a legitimate chance to win the FedExCup. “Going into the playoffs, my goal was to make Atlanta, but I have as good as a chance as anyone to win at the Tour championship.”
“On any given day, you will have 15 guys playing really good and 15 guys playing okay. So in a field of 30, anyone out on the field can win the trophy.”
The City of Weyburn congratulated DeLaet, through a press release on Sept. 6. “I can’t begin to say how proud we all are of Graham. He is playing at such a high level that I sometimes find myself doing a bit of a double-take when I see the sort of people he’s playing against,” said Mayor Debra Button.
“Graham has always been such a down-to-Earth guy. He may be playing with the pros, but he hasn’t lost his hometown touch when he comes back here to play for charity events like the tournament he started in support of the Weyburn and District Hospital Foundation,” said Button.
“His games may sometimes take him half a world away, but we still always see him as part of our community,” added Button.
DeLaet himself is a little awed to the success that he has accomplished. “I can remember being a junior golfer and looking up to Weir and Woods, and now I can call them both a friend.”
“Now I have junior golfers who are looking up to me,” said DeLaet. “I hope my success shows them that if they work hard, they can follow and achieve their dreams.”
Pairings for the President’s Cup have not been announced yet, but DeLaet said he would be comfortable with either Brendon de Jonge and Marc Leishman. “I would love to play with Ernie Els,” said DeLaet. “But no matter who I am paired with, it will be an unbelievable pairing.”
In a way, DeLaet is following the footsteps of one of his idols, Mike Weir, by qualifying for the President’s Cup. When asked if he was trying to replace Weir on the international level, DeLaet definitely didn’t see it that way.
“None of us is trying to be the next Mike Weir, that’s for sure, because he’s one of a kind. He carried the flag for this country for a long time and did it well, not only just in golf but for sport in Canada in general.”
“He’s a tremendous ambassador for our country and the game and if I can be half the ambassador he’s been I’d be quite happy,” said DeLaet.
Especially when it comes to preparing for the President’s Cup, DeLaet wants to talk to Weir and get some input from the legendary golfer. “I haven’t played a ton of match play and obviously he took down Tiger Woods in 2007 President’s Cup so he knows something about it.”
When it comes to DeLaet’s own inexperience at match-play, he is still excited for playing at the President’s Cup. “I actually feel it suits my game pretty well. You can be a lot more aggressive when needed and also play smart when needed.”
“It’s obviously a totally different game; you’re playing more against your competitor than you are the golf course.”
DeLaet heads for the Conway Farms golf course on Thursday to compete the BMW Championships. Then right after that playoff event, DeLaet will compete at the Tour championship at East Lake golf course on Thursday to Sunday, Sept. 19 to 22.
The President’s Cup will be held in Muirfield Village in Ohio from October 3 to 6.